MILWAUKEE ADMIRALS (23-5-3-2) AT CHICAGO WOLVES (15-16-2-0)
A BIG WIN IN IOWA
When the Chicago Wolves hopped the bus Friday afternoon to head to Des Moines, they had 20 healthy skaters. When they hopped the bus Saturday night to return to Rosemont, they had 16 healthy skaters.
What happened in between? The Wolves battled through a day of attrition to earn a 4-3 victory over the second-place Iowa Wild to pull within six points of the Wild in the Central Division standings.
Chicago started the game with just 17 skaters after a busy morning that featured some good news (forward Keegan Kolesar receiving his first recall by the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights) and some bad news (defenseman Jake Bischoff and veteran Tyrell Goulbourne waking up with a virus that kept them off the ice). Midway through the game, forward Reid Duke suffered an undisclosed injury that sidelined him.
The Wolves persevered, though, and emerged victorious when rookie forward Paul Cotter produced his first professional goal at 9:44 of the third period to snap the game’s final tie. Now Chicago has a chance to knock off first-place Milwaukee for the third time in a row on Allstate Arena ice. The Admirals are playing their third game in 48 hours.
To ensure the Wolves have enough skaters to fill out today’s lineup, rookie forward Jermaine Loewen has been recalled from loan to the Fort Wayne Komets (ECHL) after playing Saturday night in Kalamazoo. The 21-year-old Jamaica native owns one goal and one assist in 19 games for the Wolves and one goal and one assist in 11 games for Fort Wayne. Also, shortly after midnight, Vegas returned Kolesar on loan to the Wolves.
HECK OF A DECADE
Today’s game marks the 384th and final Chicago Wolves home game during the 2010s. The Wolves opened the decade with a 3-2 shootout win over the Peoria Rivermen on Jan. 2, 2010. Including that game, Chicago has posted a 222-117-22-22 regular-season record at home (.637) during the decade. The Wolves also won 20 Calder Cup Playoff contests on home ice.
The Wolves have outscored their foes by a 1,171 to 1,011 margin during this decade at Allstate Arena. Ty Rattie leads all Wolves goal-scorers at home during the 2010s with 42 tallies. Darren Haydar (40), Brett Sterling (31), Brandon Pirri (29) and Michael Davies (27) round out the top five.
When it comes to protecting the net, Matt Climie owns the most home wins (36) while Jordan Binnington ranks second with 32. Oscar Dansk stands third with 23 (including five this season) while Peter Mannino recorded 19.
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’ve saved the most difficult vote for last. From now through Dec. 30, it’s time to vote for the Wolves’ All-Decade Left Wing. You have to choose between two AHL MVPs (Kenny Agostino and Daniel Carr), a potential AHL Hall of Famer (Brett Sterling) and a points-scoring machine (Brandon Pirri).
LAST TWO GAMES
- Rookie forward Paul Cotter scored his first goal as a pro at 9:44 of the third period to snap the game’s third tie and produce the game-winner at Wells Fargo Arena.
- Defensemen Zach Whitecloud and Jimmy Schuldt scored 26 seconds apart in the first period and forward Curtis McKenzie added a goal in the second period.
- Goaltender Oscar Dansk stopped 25 shots to push his winning streak to six games.
- Starting for the second night in a row, Texas goaltender Jake Oettinger stopped all 32 shots he saw to snap the Wolves’ winning streak at three games.
- The Wolves outshot the Stars 32-19 as Brandon Pirri and Gage Quinney launched four shots apiece while the penalty kill unit erased 5 of 6 Texas power plays.
- Goaltender Garret Sparks posted 16 saves.
BY THE NUMBERS
1: Rookie forward Paul Cotter saved his first professional goal for a huge moment. With the Wolves and Iowa Wild knotted 3-3 Saturday night, Cotter sneaked into a sliver of open space near the crease and defenseman Jimmy Schuldt found him for a textbook redirect at 9:44 of the third period for the game-winning goal. Cotter, who turned 20 on Nov. 16, reacted almost as excitedly as he did when fellow rookie Jermaine Loewen scored his first AHL goal Dec. 7 at Manitoba.
3: When center Nicolas Roy produced three goals against San Antonio on Dec. 17, 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.
6: Goaltender Oscar Dansk pushed his personal winning streak to six games Saturday night when he stopped 25 shots in the Wolves’ 4-3 win at Iowa. During his streak, which began Dec. 4 at Grand Rapids, he has posted a 1.83 goals-against average (11 goals in 360 minutes, 50 seconds) and a .937 save percentage (stopping 163 of 174 shots). The 25-year-old from Stockholm, Sweden needs one more win to tie his professional-high winning streak of seven games, which he set in the 2017-18 season and equalled during his final seven starts last season.
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.
71: With forward Keegan Kolesar making a swift round trip between the Wolves and the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights Saturday and forward Jermaine Loewen rejoining the Wolves today, the Wolves have been part of 71 player transactions since the regular season opened on Oct. 5. While a few have been paper transactions engineered by the Golden Knights, the 71 transactions helps to explain some of the inconsistency the Wolves have experienced this season. To help put that number into perspective, the Wolves had been a part of just 18 regular-season transactions as of Dec. 29, 2018. The Wolves finished the 2018-19 regular season with just 57 player transactions as they won the Central Division and wound up in the Calder Cup Finals.
100: When the Wolves defeated the Texas Stars by a 2-1 count on Dec. 21, head coach Rocky Thompson earned his 100th regular-season victory behind the Wolves bench. Thompson boasts a 100-61-15-8 record (.606) and a pair of Central Division titles since taking the reins prior to the 2017-18 season — and also led Chicago to the 2019 Calder Cup Finals. Only AHL Hall of Famer John Anderson (624 wins in 14 seasons) has delivered more wins for the Wolves.
|Tuesday, Dec. 31||at Grand Rapids||Van Andel Arena||5 p.m.||Watch|
|Thursday, Jan. 2||vs. Texas||Allstate Arena||7 p.m.||Tickets|
|Saturday, Jan. 4||vs. Iowa||Allstate Arena||7 p.m.||Tickets|