CHICAGO WOLVES (0-1-0-0) AT SAN ANTONIO RAMPAGE (2-0-0-0)
HELLO, LUCAS ELVENES
Twenty-year-old rookie forward Lucas Elvenes made a name for himself in his first game as a professional on North American soil. The Angelholm, Sweden, native racked up four points — one goal and three assists — to have a hand in all but one of the Wolves’ scores in their 8-5 season-opening loss to Grand Rapids. Elvenes played on the top line alongside center Gage Quinney and left wing Tye McGinn and saw time on the power play as well.
“I really thought Elvenes had a good game (Saturday) night,” said Wolves head coach Rocky Thompson. “He was very productive. And I thought Quinney looked really good. I thought those two had a ton of chemistry and I thought McGinn was a nice complement to them. He did a lot of heavy lifting, a lot of forechecking. So that was a positive for sure.”
Elvenes became the sixth player in Wolves history to score four points in a season opener. He joined an illustrious group that consists of Alex Tuch (3 goals, 1 assist at Texas in 2017), Jason Krog (3 goals, 1 assist at Peoria in 2006), Andreas Karlsson (4 assists vs. Cincinnati in 2002), Robert Petrovicky (2 goals, 2 assists at Cincinnati in 2000) and Doug Barrault (4 assists at Fort Wayne in 1996).
Elvenes comes from a long line of hockey players. He was selected by Vegas in the fifth round of the 2017 NHL Entry Draft, which is a nice achievement — but he’s not even the highest NHL pick in his own family. His father, Stefan, was taken by the Chicago Blackhawks in the fourth round of the 1988 NHL Entry Draft (the same year, Lucas’ uncle, Roger, went in the eighth round to the Toronto Maple Leafs). His grandfather, Bjorn, had a long career primarily in Sweden’s Division 2 and averaged nearly one goal per game over a five-year stretch.
WHAT A WILD OPENER
When the Wolves and Grand Rapids Griffins met on Saturday night at Allstate Arena, it wasn’t your ordinary opener. Not only did the Central Division rivals combine for 13 goals — the second-highest total for any Wolves opener in the franchise’s 26-year history — but the teams played at a fierce level more commonly seen in a playoff game as opposed to an Oct. 5 lidlifter.
While each team amassed just 22 penalty minutes, there were enough post-whistle tussles and scrums and mean mugs to suggest the Wolves and Griffins hadn’t put last year’s Western Conference Semifinals series behind them.
After four days of practices to build on their successes and shore up their shortcomings, the Wolves head to Texas for a pair of battles against a Rampage squad that held its own against the Calder Cup finalists last year. Even though the Wolves won the Central Division with 98 points and the Rampage finished last with 69 points, the teams split their eight games.
The Rampage are opening their season with a four-game homestand and they already have two wins under their belt. Former Wolves goaltender Ville Husso, who helped the team win the 2017 Central Division and reach the second round of the Calder Cup Playoffs, won both games for San Antonio and enters this weekend with a 1.51 goals-against average and a .946 save percentage.
WE ARE THE WOLVES
Darren Haydar is one of the Chicago Wolves’ all-time greats — and now he officially will be known as one of the American Hockey League’s all-time greats. The AHL announced Thursday that Haydar will be one of four inductees in the American Hockey League’s Hall of Fame Class of 2020.
The sublime Haydar spent more time with the Wolves than any other AHL team and racked up 128 goals and 240 assists in 342 regular-season games along with 26 goals and 33 assists in 44 Calder Cup games for Chicago.
Haydar captained the 2008 Calder Cup championship squad, set the AHL point streak record when he scored in each of the first 39 games of the 2006-07 season and set the league marks for postseason goals (63) and points (143).
opening night rewind
- In the second highest-scoring opener in Wolves history, the Griffins and Wolves combined for 13 goals — five on the power play — to light the lamps early and often at Allstate Arena.
- Forwards Gage Quinney, Lucas Elvenes, Patrick Brown, Tye McGinn and Curtis McKenzie scored goals while Elvenes added three assists in his North American professional debut.
- Goaltender Oscar Dansk posted 18 saves.
BY THE NUMBERS
3: Three players wore the “A” for the Wolves in Saturday’s opener — and their identities were no surprise to anyone. Curtis McKenzie, who had been the Texas Stars’ captain prior to joining the Wolves last season, wore the “A” throughout the 2018-19 campaign. Newcomers Patrick Brown and Jaycob Megna served as the captain for the Charlotte Checkers and San Diego Gulls, respectively, last season. The Wolves encountered Brown’s and Megna’s leadership skills during the final two rounds of the 2019 Calder Cup Playoffs. “I think we have the league’s three best captains from last year,” said Wolves head coach Rocky Thompson. “That’s a very positive thing.”
7: When the Wolves captured the Central Division title last April, they became the seventh organization in the American Hockey League’s 83-year history to win back-to-back-to-back division crowns. They joined the company of Toronto (2012-14), Rochester (1999-2001), Philadelphia (1997-99), Hershey (1967-69), Quebec (1964-66) and Springfield (1960-62). If the Wolves win the Central Division this year, they’ll become the first AHL franchise to win four straight titles.
10: Ten players made their Wolves debut in Saturday night’s opener. The list consists of five veterans (forwards Patrick Brown and Tyrell Goulbourne and defensemen Brett Lernout, Jaycob Megna and Cliff Watson) and five rookies who made their professional debut: forwards Paul Cotter, Lucas Elvenes, Ben Jones and Jonas Røndbjerg and defenseman Brayden Pachal. To be more precise, Elvenes and Røndbjerg weren’t making their pro debut as they’ve played at the top level in Sweden.
26: Forwards Lucas Elvenes and Patrick Brown each scored a goal in their Wolves debut Saturday night. That made Elvenes and Brown the 25th and 26th players, respectively, to produce a goal in their first game with the Wolves. Prior to them, the last player to join the club was 19-year-old Cody Glass on April 5, 2019, at Milwaukee. In fact, Glass scored two goals against the Admirals that night, which was foreshadowing for his NHL debut on Oct. 2 when he scored for the Vegas Golden Knights against the San Jose Sharks.
92.9: Last year, the Wolves scored four or more goals in 42 of their 98 games (including the Calder Cup Playoffs). The team posted a 38-2-1-1 record in those 42 games for a .929 points percentage. Alas, the team is off to a 0-1-0-0 start in the category this season.
1,000: The Wolves are slated to play their 1,000th regular-season home game on Nov. 19, 2019, against the San Antonio Rampage. The franchise boasts a 585-301-9-35-62 record at Allstate Arena, which breaks down as a .642 winning percentage. The organization owns a .553 winning percentage on the road as the Wolves have earned an average of 7.24 more points per year in Rosemont than on the road.
1,449: When the Wolves and Griffins combined for 13 goals in Saturday’s opener, it represented the most goals in a Wolves game in 1,449 days. On Oct. 17, 2015, the Wolves pounded the Charlotte Checkers by a 9-5 count at Allstate Arena. Five Wolves produced one goal and two assists in that game: Ivan Barbashev, Pat Cannone, Danny Kristo, Magnus Paajarvi and Ty Rattie. In addition, the Wolves hadn’t allowed more than seven goals in a game since a 10-8 loss to the Grand Rapids Griffins on Nov. 27, 2010, at Allstate Arena.