TEXAS STARS (11-16-1-2) AT CHICAGO WOLVES (14-15-2-0)
HEADING INTO THE HOLIDAY BREAK LIKE…
Despite surrendering a season-high 42 shots, the Chicago Wolves picked up a 2-1 win over the Texas Stars on Saturday night to extend their winning streak to three and improve their record in December to 5-2-0-0.
All that stands between the Wolves and a four-day holiday break is today’s rematch with Texas that will be seen locally on My50 Chicago, across North America on NHL Network and around the world on NHL International.
By the way, did we mention the Stanley Cup will be in Allstate Arena’s South Lobby for several hours this afternoon as a reminder of everyone’s ultimate goal in this sport?
With so much hullabaloo surrounding this game — and the holiday break so close the players can touch it — Wolves head coach Rocky Thompson would like everyone in his room to remember something.
“Christmas break doesn’t start until the game’s over tomorrow,” Thompson said after Saturday’s game. “It’s difficult, but that is the reality of it. We’re in a dogfight. This is one of the teams we are (in a dogfight with).”
He’d like them to remember something else, too.
“This was the first time like I feel we’ve been outplayed probably in eight games,” he said. “That might happen every now and again. I hate it when it does, obviously, but I think we had some lines and some players that really struggled tonight. We weren’t mentally focused, as an entire team, in the first 10 minutes of the game.”
BECAUSE IT’s THE CUP
The Stanley Cup makes an appearance today at Allstate Arena. It can be found in the South Lobby for all Wolves fans who want to take a picture with hockey’s holy grail. When people get a chance to look at the Cup’s rings that showcase names of players who’ve won the NHL championship, they’ll see plenty of former Wolves’ names.
There are 45 Wolves who have played on Stanley Cup-winning teams, but not all of them fulfilled the criteria to have their names immortalized on the rings. Here are the 26 listed on the Cup: Jake Allen, Ivan Barbashev, Jordan Binnington, Samuel Blais, Phil Bourque, Jay Bouwmeester, Adam Burish, Chris Chelios, Joe DiPenta, Vince Dunn, Ben Eager, Joel Edmundson, Robby Fabbri, Colin Fraser, Glenn Healy, Manny Legace, Joe Motzko, Troy Murray, Brian Noonan, Ed Olczyk, Colton Parayko, Steven Reinprecht, Gordie Roberts, Zach Sanford, Brent Sopel and Wendell Young.
WE ARE THE WOLVES
As the 2010s come to a close, the Chicago Wolves are hosting a series of fan votes to determine the franchise’s All-Decade Team. Considering the Wolves have won six division titles in the last 10 years — capped by a run to the 2019 Calder Cup Finals — there are a lot of great players from which to choose.
We’re halfway through with the voting and have identified our All-Decade Goaltender, Center and Right Wing. From today through Tuesday, the voting focuses on the left-shot defensemen: Chris Butler, Vince Dunn, Nic Hague and Brad Hunt.
LAST TWO GAMES
- Center Gage Quinney jammed home his own rebound with 1:14 left in regulation to lead the Wolves to their third win in a row and fourth in the last five games.
- Forward Brandon Pirri scored in the second period to erase Texas’ 1-0 lead and he set up Quinney’s game-winner with a pass to the crease.
- Goaltender Oscar Dansk stopped a Wolves season-high 41 shots to earn his fifth straight win.
- The Wolves extended their winning streak to seven during School-Day Games as they erased a 1-0 deficit thanks to center Nicolas Roy’s first hat trick in the AHL.
- In addition to doubling his season goals total, Roy set up forward Brandon Pirri for the Wolves’ other tally to become the third Chicago player this season to notch four points in a game.
- Goaltender Oscar Dansk notched 23 saves to extend his winning streak to four games.
BY THE NUMBERS
1: Utica defenseman Brogan Rafferty, who’s listed as being born in suburban Naperville as well as Dundee, has racked up seven points in the last three games to pull in a tie with Wolves forward Lucas Elvenes for the most points by an AHL rookie this season. Elvenes owns seven goals and 22 assists while Rafferty has four goals and a league-high-tying 25 assists. They are tied for sixth place on the AHL’s overall scoring list, but they are NOT tied in age. Rafferty was already four years and 82 days old when Elvenes was born in Angelholm, Sweden. Utica does not play today, so Elvenes will head into the holiday break as the league’s top rookie scorer if he gets on the scoresheet in today’s game.
2: In Game 1 of the 2019 Calder Cup Finals, the Wolves trailed 3-1 after the first period and rallied for a 4-3 overtime triumph. That was the last time the Wolves won a game when trailing after the first period until Tuesday, when the Wolves erased a 1-0 deficit for a 4-1 win over San Antonio. The Wolves liked that feeling so much, they did it again Saturday night as they erased Texas’ 1-0 lead at the 20-minute mark. Chicago is 2-8-0-0 this season when trailing after the first period.
3: When center Nicolas Roy produced three goals against San Antonio Tuesday morning, he became the first Wolves player since Curtis McKenzie in last year’s Calder Cup Playoffs (May 10 vs. Iowa in Game 5 of the Central Division Finals) to post a hat trick. The Wolves’ first hat trick of this season came a little later than last season. By this time last year, Chicago already had four hatties: Brooks Macek on Oct. 13 vs. Grand Rapids, Gage Quinney on Oct. 24 vs. Cleveland, Daniel Carr with 4 goals on Nov. 7 at Milwaukee and Brandon Pirri on Dec. 8 at Rockford.
5: Goaltender Oscar Dansk extended his winning streak to five games with his 41-save effort Saturday night (by the way, those 41 saves are the most he has produced in his AHL career, which consists of 97 regular-season and 21 postseason appearances). During Dansk’s streak, which began Dec. 4 at Grand Rapids, he has posted a 1.60 goals-against average (8 goals in 300:50) and a .945 save percentage (138 of 146 shots). The 25-year-old from Stockholm, Sweden, shows a seven-game winning streak as his career-high. He accomplished it each of the last two seasons.
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.
67: Though all has been quiet since Dec. 9, the Wolves have been part of 67 player transactions since the regular season opened on Oct. 5. While a few of those have been paper transactions engineered by the Vegas Golden Knights, the 67 transactions helps to explain all of the transitions the Wolves have had to make this season. To help put that number into perspective, the Wolves made just 57 player transactions during the entire 2018-19 regular season that ended up in the Calder Cup Finals. On this date last season, the Wolves had been a part of 17 transactions.
|Saturday, Dec. 28||at Iowa||Wells Fargo Arena||6 p.m.||Watch|
|Sunday, Dec. 29||vs. Milwaukee||Allstate Arena||3 p.m.||Tickets|
|Tuesday, Dec. 31||at Grand Rapids||Van Andel Arena||5 p.m.||Watch|