SAN ANTONIO RAMPAGE (6-5-3-2) at CHICAGO WOLVES (8-9-1-0)
it’s home game no. 1,000!
On Oct. 14, 1994, the Chicago Wolves hosted their inaugural home game at what was known then as the Rosemont Horizon. The Wolves had to hold up the start of the game for 30 minutes because the sellout crowd needed extra time to park their cars and get into the arena.
Once the puck dropped, the Wolves made the fans wait just 74 seconds to howl for the franchise’s first home goal as Todd Harkins scored with assists from Tim Bergland and Todd Gillingham. The Wolves went to claim a 4-2 triumph over the Detroit Vipers.
While 25 years and 36 days have passed since the home opener, many things remain the same for the Wolves. Wendell Young was the winning goaltender that night. Now he’s the general manager who owns six division titles in 10 seasons at the helm.
Gene Ubriaco was the Wolves head coach that night. Now he serves as the team’s senior hockey advisor/director of hockey operations and owns the office next to Young’s at the team’s practice facility in Hoffman Estates.
Bob Nardella earned one assist that night while serving as one of the Wolves’ defensemen. Now he’s in his third season as an assistant coach on Rocky Thompson’s staff.
Wayne Messmer sang the national anthem that night — making his triumphant comeback after being shot in the throat six months earlier. He continues to lend his voice for the anthem and serve as the team’s senior executive vice president.
During this epic quarter-century journey, the Wolves have fashioned a 588-304-9-36-62 record at home — which calculates out to a .642 winning percentage. The franchise has earned four league championships, seven conference titles and 10 division crowns while welcoming more than 8,000,000 fans through Allstate Arena’s doors.
HELP HAS ARRIVED
The 28-year-old Pirri returns to the place where he has enjoyed so much success — producing 47 goals and 47 assists in just 86 games the previous two years. Pirri was leading the AHL in scoring last season — posting 18 goals and 24 assists in 29 games — when Vegas added him for good on Jan. 5.
Roy, 22, owns one assist in seven games with the Wolves to go with one goal and two assists in six games for Vegas. He recorded his first NHL goal on Oct. 27 against Anaheim.
WE ARE THE WOLVES
The Wolves spent four years with the St. Louis Blues as their NHL partner. The 2014-17 stretch was bookended by division titles.
John Anderson led the Wolves to the 2014 Midwest Division crown and to the second round of the Calder Cup Playoffs while Craig Berube guided the Wolves to the 2017 Central Division crown and another second-round run. Berube, of course, went on to lead the Blues to the 2019 Stanley Cup championship.
After the Wolves and Blues split up, the Blues forged a partnership with the San Antonio Rampage. There are just three former Wolves on the Rampage roster: goaltender Ville Husso, forward Jordan Kyrou and defenseman Jake Walman.
last two games
- Rookie center Ben Jones scored his first professional goal at 9:45 of the third to snap the game’s last tie and lead the Wolves to the win at Wells Fargo Arena.
- Forwards Curtis McKenzie, Reid Duke and Lucas Elvenes also scored goals while McKenzie and Elvenes also chipped in assists.
- Goaltender Oscar Dansk stopped 31 shots to earn his 50th AHL win.
- For the first time since the Iowa Wild moved to Des Moines in 2013-14, the Wild earned a regular-season shutout of the Wolves as Kaapo Kahkonen stopped all 22 shots he saw.
- Forward Dmitry Sokolov scored the game’s first two goals — both set up by Kyle Bauman — to stake the Wild to a 2-0 lead after two periods.
- Goaltender Garret Sparks posted 29 saves.
by the numbers
1: Rookie center Ben Jones couldn’t have timed his first professional goal any better. Jones blistered a slapshot from the high slot at 9:45 of the third period to deliver the game-winning goal in Sunday’s 4-3 win over Iowa. The 20-year-old from Waterloo, Ontario, earned his first pro goal in his 15th game. He became the third player to score his first professional goal for the Wolves this season — joining center Jake Leschyshyn (Oct. 26 vs. Manitoba) and defenseman Jimmy Schuldt (Nov. 3 at Rockford). Forward Jermaine Loewen also scored his first pro goal this season, but it came for the Fort Wayne Komets on Nov. 2.
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: When Brandon Pirri left the Wolves and headed to the Vegas Golden Knights for good after a 3-1 win over the San Antonio Rampage on Jan. 5, 2019, he departed the AHL with an active 10-game point streak. Pirri posted 10 goals and 10 assists in his final 10 Wolves appearances last season.
17: Rookie forward Lucas Elvenes produced his 17th assist of the season Sunday afternoon when he set up Reid Duke’s quick strike in the second period. The 20-year-old Elvenes has been leading the AHL in assists for the last several weeks. He also finds himself just one point from owning a share of the lead in that category. Elvenes’ 23 points trail Grand Rapids veteran forward Chris Terry (9 goals, 15 assists) by just one. To get a sense of how well Elvenes is faring, Brandon Pirri owned 22 points (8 goals, 14 assists) after 18 games last season.
20: It generally takes only 20 minutes to know whether the Wolves are going to win a given game this season. The Wolves are 5-2-0-0 when leading after one period, 0-7-0-0 when trailing after one period and 3-0-1-0 when tied heading into the first intermission. The calculations don’t change much after 40 minutes. The Wolves are 6-1-0-0 when leading with one period to go, 0-7-0-0 when trailing and 2-1-1-0 when tied.
50: Goaltender Oscar Dansk earned his 50th American Hockey League victory in the Wolves’ 4-3 win at Iowa. Dansk stopped 31 of 34 shots to improve his record to 50-23-13 since making his AHL debut with the Springfield Falcons on Oct. 19, 2014. The 25-year-old Stockholm, Sweden, native joined the Wolves after signing with the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights prior to the 2017-18 season. He has produced a 43-16-8 record with a 2.56 goals-against average and a .910 save percentage in 68 regular-season appearances for the Wolves. He also served as the workhorse for the Wolves’ run to the 2019 Calder Cup Finals — starting 19 of the 22 postseason games.
1,000: Not only are the Wolves playing their 1,000th regular-season home game tonight, they played their 1,000 regular-season road game Sunday at Iowa. Earning that 4-3 victory on the Wild’s home ice moved the franchise’s road record to 493-388-15-48-56 — otherwise known as a .553 winning percentage.