Welcome to Wolves Insider: the weekly report that gives you the scoop on the 2019 Western Conference champions as they embark on the journey toward the 2020 Calder Cup.
We’re putting the band back together
Slowly but surely, the Chicago Wolves’ roster has begun to resemble the one that captured the 2019 Western Conference championship and reached the Calder Cup Finals in June.
When the Wolves shut out the Manitoba Moose on Saturday night, it coincided with the returns of goaltender Oscar Dansk and defenseman Zach Whitecloud. Dansk, who took care of the net for almost all of the Wolves’ postseason wins last year, rejected 25 shots to earn the win in his first game for the Wolves since Opening Night (he spent two weeks with the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights).
Meanwhile, Whitecloud hadn’t been on the ice since Sept. 25 — when he suffered an upper-body injury during a Vegas exhibition game. While he didn’t produce any points Saturday, his hefty contributions did not go unnoticed by Wolves head coach Rocky Thompson.
“I think he made a big difference in our game,” Thompson said. “I thought he broke out pucks (out of the zone) outstanding. The transition was really, really good. It was his first game in a while and I really liked his game. I thought he helped our team. We didn’t have to defend long when he was on the ice. When he went back to break out a puck, we were able to execute and make the next play and exit our zone so we didn’t get hemmed in a lot.”
Whitecloud finished with a +2 plus/minus rating Saturday, so he picked up where he left off last season — when he led the AHL with a +39 plus/minus rating.
“That’s the first time I’ve ever had to sit out with an injury, so it was a learning process,” Whitecloud said. “To come back and have an impact right away, that’s what I wanted to do. I wanted to contribute positively to what we’re doing here. It was a good feeling to get back out there and have fun.”
As if Whitecloud’s and Dansk’s returns weren’t enough, Vegas loaned four players to the Wolves on Monday: defensemen Nic Hague and Jake Bischoff, center Nicolas Roy and goaltender Garret Sparks. When they join the team in Tucson to face the red-hot Roadrunners (6-1-0-0), Thompson will have five forwards, four defensemen and one goaltender available from the talented group that won the Central Division title and the Western Conference championship.
MILITARY APPRECIATION WEEKEND: NOV 9-10
The Wolves welcome all veterans and active-duty military for Military Appreciation Weekend on Nov. 9-10 at Allstate Arena. In addition to the pair of games devoted to honoring veterans’ dedication to our country, the Wolves are partnering with Feed 6 on Nov. 9 to conduct a food-packing event that helps hungry veterans.
Who leads the American Hockey League with 13 points and 10 assists? Why, it’s this 20-year-old rookie from Angelholm, Sweden. Elvenes has delivered points in each of the Wolves’ last six games and already owns four multi-assist efforts — including a pair of helpers in the Wolves’ wins over Texas (Oct. 23) and Manitoba (Oct. 26) last week.
The Wolves added this veteran center — the captain of the 2019 Calder Cup champion Charlotte Checkers — to provide scoring and leadership and he’s doing plenty of both. Brown is riding a three-game goal-scoring streak after tallying against Texas (Oct. 23) and Manitoba (Oct. 26). It’s his first three-game goal streak since Feb. 3-10, 2017, against Tucson, Tucson and Stockton.
After spending two weeks serving as the Vegas Golden Knights’ backup goalie, Dansk returned to the American Hockey League with a vengeance as he produced a shutout on Saturday against Manitoba at Allstate Arena. The Wolves’ 4-0 victory marked his first shutout of the year, his fourth with Chicago and the fifth of his North American pro career.
LAST WEEK (2-0-0-0)
- The Wolves earned their third straight win as goaltender Oscar Dansk stopped all 25 shots he faced to send the Moose to their sixth loss in a row.
- Left wing Tye McGinn scored his 100th AHL goal, rookie center Jake Leschyshyn picked up his first professional goal and centers Gage Quinney and Patrick Brown posted the other goals.
- For Dansk, it marked his fourth AHL shutout and fifth professional whitewash in North America.
- The Wolves scored three first-period goals in front of a loud School-Day Game crowd at Allstate Arena and held on for the victory over Texas.
- Center Gage Quinney scored a pair of goals, including the game-winner, while center Patrick Brown scored the other. Forward Lucas Elvenes earned assists on both of Quinney’s tallies.
- Goaltender Garret Sparks posted a season-high 39 saves.
NEXT FIVE GAMES
|Tuesday, Oct. 29||at Tucson||9 p.m.||Tucson Convention Center||AHLTV|
|Wednesday, Oct. 30||at Tucson||9 p.m.||Tucson Convention Center||AHLTV|
|Saturday, Nov. 2||at Milwaukee||6 p.m.||Panther Arena||My50|
|Sunday, Nov. 3||at Rockford||4 p.m.||MetroCentre||My50|
|Thursday, Nov. 7||at Iowa||10:30 a.m.||Wells Fargo Arena||AHLTV|