CHICAGO WOLVES (5-3-1-0) AT TUCSON ROADRUNNERS (6-2-0-0)
Wednesday, Oct. 30 | 9 p.m. | Tucson Convention Center Arena | AHLTV | Facebook Live
STAY HOT IN THE DESERT
With a crisp 60-minute effort, the Chicago Wolves ended the Tucson Roadrunners’ five-game winning streak with a 2-1 victory Tuesday night at Tucson Convention Center Arena. Now the Wolves get a chance to beat the Roadrunners twice in two days.
The Wolves played perhaps their strongest overall game of the season Tuesday, which makes sense because they fielded their best lineup of the season as well. Chicago added defensemen Nic Hague and Jake Bischoff, center Nicolas Roy and goaltender Garret Sparks to its roster Monday. The first three jumped into the lineup Tuesday — while goaltender Oscar Dansk gave head coach Rocky Thompson’s team a fourth player who already has seen action for the NHL Vegas Golden Knights this season.
DANSK, DANSK EVOLUTION
When the Chicago Wolves were in the stretch run last season and competing for their third straight Central Division, goaltender Oscar Dansk developed into a daily stalwart. Beginning on March 9, Dansk played 11 of the Wolves’ final 17 games and allowed just 17 goals while fashioning a 10-0-1 record. Dansk then handled the vast majority of the Wolves’ postseason games as the team climbed all the way to the Calder Cup Finals.
But when Dansk didn’t post good numbers in his first two starts this season (7 goals allowed on Oct. 5 against the Grand Rapids Griffins and 6 goals allowed on Oct. 21 against the NHL’s Philadelphia Flyers), some wondered how long it might take to regain last year’s form.
Turned out it wouldn’t be long at all. Dansk rejoined the Wolves lineup on Oct. 26 and whitewashed Manitoba 4-0. That earned him the start Tuesday night in Tucson and Dansk responded with 29 saves in 30 shots to pick up another win.
“The funny thing is, I felt good for a long time,” Dansk told the Chicago Sun-Times after his 25-save shutout Saturday. “In practices, I felt like my game was pretty good.”
ELVENES STAYS AHEAD OF THE PACK
The Wolves earned a 5-on-3 power play in the first period and rookie right wing Lucas Elvenes picked up the primary assist on defenseman Dylan Coghlan’s massive blast from just inside the top of the right circle. Not did that increase Elvenes’ American Hockey League lead in points (14) and assists (11), he extended his active point streak to a league-best seven games. The Wolves have scored 21 non-shootout goals, which means the 20-year-old Elvenes has helped with 67 percent of the team’s goals.
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
TUESDAY, OCT. 29: CHICAGO 2, (at) TUCSON 1
- In a battle of two teams riding winning streaks, the Wolves never trailed as they snapped the Roadrunners’ five-game run while extending their own winning streak to four.
- Defenseman Dylan Coghlan opened the scoring with a power-play goal while center Reid Duke provided the game-winner with the team’s first short-handed goal of the season.
- Goaltender Oscar Dansk rejected 29 shots to earn the win.
SATURDAY, OCT. 26: (at) CHICAGO 4, MANITOBA 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.
BY THE NUMBERS
3: This Tuesday/Wednesday back-to-back against Tucson marks the third of 14 times this season when the Wolves face the same opponent on consecutive days. On the first two occasions, the Wolves improved from the first night to the second. On Oct. 11-12, the Wolves were shut out in San Antonio before rallying for a shootout win the second night. On Oct. 18-19, the Wolves lost at Rockford before recording an overtime loss at home. It’ll be impossible for the Wolves to do better than another win this time, though presumably they could always win by more or play better overall.
4: The Wolves have played just nine 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 11 assists in nine games, he’s on pace to hand out 93 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: When Tucson’s Tyler Steenbergen scored a power-play goal at 3:52 of the second period, that snapped the Wolves’ streak of 21 consecutive penalty kills. The perfect stretch began early during the second period of the Wolves’ second game of the season on Oct. 11 at San Antonio. Head coach Rocky Thompson’s squad finished with more than seven full games without allowing a PPG — 435 minutes and 15 seconds.
42: Goaltender Oscar Dansk picked up his 42nd victory in a Wolves uniform Tuesday night That means he moved into a ninth-place tie with Peter Mannino (2009-11) on the organization’s all-time wins list. His goals-against average since joining the Wolves at the start of the 2017-18 season dropped to 2.46, which ties him with Eddie Lack (2011-13) for sixth place on the team’s all-time charts.
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 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.