CHICAGO WOLVES (6-4-1-0) AT ROCKFORD ICEHOGS (4-5-0-0)
UP IS DOWN, BLACK IS WHITE…
After putting together a five-game winning streak where almost everything went according to plan for two full weeks, everything about the Chicago Wolves’ 5-2 loss Saturday night at Milwaukee was the opposite of what had been happening.
Example 1: The Wolves had allowed just one goal in their last 10 periods. But Milwaukee scored three times in the opening 12:06 to grab a 3-0 lead.
Example 2: The Wolves had killed 28 of their last 29 short-handed situations. So, of course, the Admirals converted on both of their power-play chances Saturday night.
Example 3: The Wolves hadn’t trailed since the opening five minutes against Texas on Oct. 23 — a stretch of nearly full four games. Milwaukee scored the fastest opening goal against the Wolves this year (1:59 into the game) to put the Wolves in unfamiliar territory.
Example 4: The Wolves had outshot just one opponent this year — a 40-26 advantage on Opening Night that belied Chicago’s 8-5 loss to Grand Rapids. On Saturday night, the Wolves outshot the Admirals 36-24 and suffered another three-goal defeat.
Example 5 (which could be a positive omen): Head coach Rocky Thompson hadn’t changed goalies in a regular-season game since Feb. 1 last season at Rockford. In that game, Thompson removed Oscar Dansk early with the idea that he’d start Dansk the next night. The Wolves lost 5-2 on Feb. 1 (just like the Wolves lost 5-2 Saturday night), but Dansk came back the next game and earned a 5-2 win over Manitoba at Allstate Arena.
AT LEAST ONE THING STAYED THE SAME
Top-line forwards Lucas Elvenes and Gage Quinney extended their point streaks when Quinney rifled home a power-play goal midway through the third period Saturday night. Quinney pushed his point streak to five games as he owns four goals and four assists in that stretch.
With his secondary assist on Quinney’s tally, Elvenes pushed his point streak to an American Hockey League-best nine games. He also regained the league lead in points (16) from Grand Rapids’ Chris Terry and improved his lead in assists (12). On Friday, Elvenes was honored as the AHL’s Rookie of the Month for October. The 20-year-old from Angelholm, Sweden, became the first Wolves player to be named Rookie of the Month since Brett Sterling made the grade in November and December 2006.
WE ARE THE WOLVES
Since being founded in 1994, the Chicago Wolves have had 50 NHL first-round draft picks suit up for the team. That list includes a pair of No. 1 overall selections: center Patrik Stefan (1999; Atlanta Thrashers) and goaltender Rick DiPietro (2000; New York Islanders).
Shortly after turning 19, DiPietro made his professional debut with the Wolves on Oct. 7, 2000, and earned an 8-3 win over Cincinnati. He posted a 4-5-2 record in 14 games with the Wolves before joining the Islanders. Stefan appeared in just five games for the Wolves — all during the 2001-02 season — and racked up 3 goals.
LAST TWO GAMES
- The Wolves’ five-game winning streak came to a close as Milwaukee scored three times in the opening 12 minutes, six seconds to set the tone at Panther Arena.
- Forward Tyrell Goulbourne scored his first goal in a Wolves uniform, center Gage Quinney posted a power-play goal and defenseman Nic Hague assisted on both.
- Goaltender Oscar Dansk stopped six of nine shots and Dylan Ferguson rejected 13 of 14 in relief.
- The Wolves earned their second shutout in three games as goaltender Garret Sparks rejected all 32 shots he faced to extend the team’s winning streak to five games.
- Right wing Lucas Elvenes opened the scoring with a power-play goal late in the second period, then forwards Reid Duke and Tye McGinn added empty-net goals in the final 1:16.
- Sparks posted his first shutout with the Wolves, 16th in the AHL and 24th as a pro.
BY THE NUMBERS
3: The Wolves have captured the Illinois Lottery Cup each of the last three years, but they’re not off to a flying start in their bid to make it four in a row. The Illinois Lottery Cup goes to the team that wins more often during the 12-game series between the Wolves and the Rockford IceHogs. Rockford has jumped out to a 2-0 start this season with back-to-back 3-2 wins on Oct. 18 and 19. Before the IceHogs start thinking about hoisting the Cup, though, the Wolves fell behind 2 games to 1 (and 3 games to 2) to Rockford each of the last two seasons.
6: The Wolves’ recent five-game winning streak marked the sixth time the organization has won at least five straight games during Rocky Thompson’s tenure. The Wolves have enjoyed four six-game winning streaks — Dec. 9 to Dec. 21, 2017; Feb. 25 to March 9, 2018; Dec. 5 to Dec. 18, 2018; and Feb. 17 to March 1, 2019. There was also a five-game winning streak during the 2017-18 season from Dec. 30 to Jan. 6.
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.
12: Twelve of the 23 players on the Wolves’ current roster boast NHL experience. The group includes four players who’ve already seen action with the Vegas Golden Knights this season. Defensemen Jake Bischoff (four games) and Nic Hague (eight games, two assists) made their NHL debuts this year while goaltender Oscar Dansk and center Nicolas Roy also have played. Roy delivered his first NHL goal when he scored last Sunday against the Anaheim Ducks in his Vegas debut.
49: Center Gage Quinney registered two assists Wednesday night at Tucson, which pushed his AHL career total to 49 helpers in 135 regular-season games. Quinney has gotten off to a blistering start this season as the Wolves’ top-line center. He owns six goals and six assists through 11 games and shares seventh place in the league with 12 points.
249: Forwards Curtis McKenzie and Gage Quinney teamed up to assist on Lucas Elvenes’ power-play goal Wednesday night that held up as the game-winner. For McKenzie, it marked his 249th point in 304 AHL regular-season games. McKenzie has been one of the league’s best players over the last seven seasons — when he hasn’t been busy playing in the NHL. The 28-year-old British Columbia native is the only player to compete in the last two Calder Cup Finals and the only one to appear in three of the last six Calder Cup Finals.
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 .553 winning percentage on the road (491-386-15-48-56) as the Wolves have earned an average of 7.24 more points per year in Rosemont than on the road.