CHICAGO WOLVES (4-3-1-0) AT TUCSON ROADRUNNERS (6-1-0-0)
BIG TESTS IN TUCSON
The Chicago Wolves launch their longest road trip of the season — a five-game, 10-day excursion that hits four cities — with a pair of exams against the Tucson Roadrunners.
While the Wolves enter tonight’s game on a three-game winning streak, the Roadrunners show up with a five-game winning streak that stands as the longest active run in the Western Conference. Moreover, the Roadrunners boast a +11 goal differential that ranks No. 1 in the Western Conference and tied for second-best in the AHL.
The teams are somewhat familiar with each other as the Wolves and Roadrunners met for an exhibition Sept. 27 in Milwaukee — a game that was knotted at 1-1, 2-2 and 3-3 before Tucson claimed a 4-3 win. Chicago’s lineup that night featured just seven players on the current roster: Forwards Paul Cotter, Lucas Elvenes, Ben Jones, Jake Leschyshyn and Jermaine Loewen, defenseman Brayden Pachal and goaltender Oscar Dansk.
REINFORCEMENTS HAVE ARRIVED
The Wolves have played solid hockey while building their three-game winning streak against the Milwaukee Admirals, Texas Stars and Manitoba Moose, but there’s always room for more good players. On Monday, the Vegas Golden Knights reassigned defensemen Nic Hague and Jake Bischoff, center Nicolas Roy and goaltender Garret Sparks to the Wolves.
Hague (eight games) and Bischoff (four games) have spent most of this season with Vegas while Roy made his Vegas debut Sunday night and delivered his first NHL goal. Sparks, who made his Vegas debut in relief of Marc-Andre Fleury on Friday night, has posted a 2-2-1 record with a 2.15 goals-against average and a .936 save percentage.
When coupled with defenseman Zach Whitecloud and goaltender Oscar Dansk’s return to the Wolves’ lineup for Saturday’s 4-0 shutout of Manitoba, the Wolves now boast five forwards, four defensemen and one goaltender from their regular lineup last season.
ELVENES TOPS THE CHARTS
Rookie right wing Lucas Elvenes, who turned 20 on Aug. 18, has enjoyed a banner start to his first professional season in North America. Elvenes leads the American Hockey League in points (13) and assists (10) as he carries a six-game point streak into today’s game. Elvenes has teamed with Tye McGinn and Gage Quinney on the Wolves’ top line all season while also securing a role on the Wolves’ No. 1 power-play unit.
WE ARE THE WOLVES
In the Chicago Wolves’ 26-year history, just one Arizona native has suited up for the organization: Tage Thompson. The St. Louis Blues’ first-round pick in the 2016 NHL Draft made his Wolves (and pro) debut on March 11, 2017. He posted one regular-season goal and two Calder Cup Playoff goals in 26 total appearances that year.
Thompson is among the 50 first-round picks to play for the Wolves. He’s also among the 367 players who’ve suited up for the Wolves AND played in the NHL. Thompson made his NHL debut for the Blues in 2017-18 before being traded to the Buffalo Sabres. Thompson spent nearly all of last season with the Sabres, but has played solely for the AHL’s Rochester Americans this season (4 goals, 4 assists in 9 games).
Over the years, the Wolves have welcomed players from 25 states. The latest state to be added to the list was North Carolina, which joined the ranks when Jake Leschyshyn made his debut last year. He was born in Raleigh while his dad, Curtis, played for the Carolina Hurricanes.
last two games
- 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.
BY THE NUMBERS
3: Center Patrick Brown scored both regulation goals in the Wolves’ 3-2 shootout win over Milwaukee on Oct. 20, produced a goal in the Wolves’ 3-2 win over Texas on Oct. 23 and added an insurance goal in the final minute of the Wolves’ 4-0 win over Manitoba on Oct. 26. Why mention all this? Because this marks the first time since Feb. 2017 that Brown has produced goals in three consecutive games. Coincidentally, Brown’s previous three-game streak started in Tucson when the then-Charlotte Checkers center scored on Feb. 3-4, 2017. Then he added another strike on Feb. 10 vs. Stockton.
4: The Wolves have played just eight games so far, but rookie forward Lucas Elvenes already owns four multi-assist efforts. The 20-year-old from Angelholm, Sweden started fast with three assists (and one goal) on Opening Night against Grand Rapids. Since then, he has racked up two assists at Rockford (Oct. 18), versus Texas (Oct. 23) and versus Manitoba (Oct. 26). With 10 assists in eight games, he’s on pace to hand out 95 assists this season. Last year, the Wolves’ T.J. Tynan claimed the AHL’s assists crown with 59 helpers.
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.
21: The last 21 times a Wolves opponent has gone on the power play, the Wolves’ penalty-kill units have slammed the door. This streak began during the second period of the Wolves’ second game of the season on Oct. 11 at San Antonio. Head coach Rocky Thompson’s squad enters tonight’s game riding a 411-minute, 23-second streak without allowing a power-play goal.
100: Just 3:29 into the Wolves’ 4-0 win over Manitoba on Saturday, veteran forward Tye McGinn racked up his 100th goal in American Hockey League regular-season action. The 29-year-old Fergus, Ontario, native boasts 100 goals and 88 assists in 381 games. He also has produced 11 goals in 50 Calder Cup Playoff games and scored nine goals in the NHL.
414: Rookie center Jake Leschyshyn scored his first professional goal late in the third period Saturday against Manitoba. With his empty-net tally, he became the 414th player in the franchise’s 26-year history to score a regular-season goal for the burgundy and gold. The Wolves started this season with 410 players on the list, but rookie forward Lucas Elvenes and veteran center Patrick Brown joined the club on Oct. 5 vs. Grand Rapids while defenseman Jaycob Megna grabbed his spot on Oct. 18 at Rockford.
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 588-301-9-36-62 record at Allstate Arena, which breaks down to be a .644 winning percentage. The organization owns a .552 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.