CHICAGO WOLVES (21-18-3-2) AT TEXAS STARS (20-19-2-2)
The Chicago Wolves and Texas Stars are doing their utmost to save money on the electricity used to trigger the red lamps behind the nets. When the Wolves earned a 2-1 victory Friday night at H-E-B Center, it marked the fourth straight game the teams combined for exactly three goals. During their first five meetings this year, the Stars have produced nine goals and the Wolves own eight.
To be fair, the Wolves aren’t allowing many goals no matter whom they play. Friday’s win marked the seventh game in a row — and 10th out of the last 11 — where Chicago limited its opponent to two goals or fewer during regulation and overtime.
The trend really started with the Wolves’ 3-2 overtime win over Milwaukee on Dec. 14. Over the last 16 games, the Wolves have given up just 33 goals. But once you throw out one empty-netter and the two goals that were assessed after dropping shootouts to Milwaukee, the Wolves actually have allowed 30 pucks into the net with a goaltender on the ice over those 16 games.
Goaltenders Oscar Dansk — the reigning AHL Goaltender of the Month — and Garret Sparks have combined for a 1.86 goals-against average and a .927 save percentage since Dec. 14. Dansk has been particularly ridiculous with a 9-0-2 record, 1.53 GAA and .942 save percentage.
Meanwhile, after allowing just 20 shots in Friday’s win, Chicago’s defense has allowed their goalies to face just 25.56 shots per game since Dec. 14. If the Wolves had been on this pace all season, then they would rank first in the AHL in shots allowed per game. Hershey leads the league for the year at 26.56 shots allowed.
WHAT TO DO DURING THE ALL-STAR BREAK
After tonight’s game, most of the players on the Wolves roster will scatter across North America for a four-day respite. Rookie forward Lucas Elvenes, however, will fly to Ontario, California, to represent the Wolves in the 2020 AHL All-Star Classic. The 20-year-old Angelholm, Sweden, native will compete for the Western Conference in Sunday’s Skills Competition (7 p.m. CST) and the Central Division in Monday’s All-Star Challenge (9 p.m. CST). Both events are being televised by NHL Network and TSN and streamed by AHLTV.
At 1 p.m. Monday, Wolves fans can watch the AHL’s Hall of Fame Induction and Awards Ceremony on AHLTV. The four-man Hall of Fame class features Darren Haydar, the ultra-skilled right wing who racked up 128 goals and 240 assists in 342 regular-season Wolves games along with 26 goals and 33 assists in 44 Calder Cup games for Chicago.
Haydar captained the 2008 Calder Cup championship squad, set the AHL point streak record when he scored in each of the first 39 games of the 2006-07 season and set the league marks for postseason goals (63) and points (143).
WE ARE THE WOLVES
Four local legends with ties to the Chicago Wolves are part of the 12-person Illinois Hockey Hall of Fame’s Class of 2019 that will be honored at Sunday night’s induction dinner in Elk Grove Village.
Oak Forest native Tim Stapleton racked up 31 goals and 32 assists in 77 regular-season games for the Wolves in 2009-11 during the early stages of his 12-year professional career.
Kenny McCudden served for 16 years as the Wolves’ skating and skills coach before joining the Columbus Blue Jackets’ coaching staff in 2015.
Don Granato succeeded John Anderson as head coach in 2008.
Steve Drews, a fixture in the Wolves’ off-ice officials group as a goal judge, enters the Illinois Hockey Hall of Fame for his skills as a official.
LAST TWO GAMES
- Defenseman Jimmy Schuldt ripped a one-timer past screened Texas goaltender Jake Oettinger 2:30 into the third period for the game-winner at H-E-B Center.
- Forward Brandon Pirri pulled the Wolves even with a breakaway goal just 23 seconds before the end of the second period. Defenseman Jake Bischoff set him up with a pinpoint 100-foot pass.
- Goaltender Oscar Dansk posted 19 saves to earn the win.
- Rockford goaltender Collin Delia repelled all 34 shots he faced as the IceHogs shut out the Wolves for the first time in the teams’ last 46 matchups.
- The Wolves outshot the IceHogs 34-18 — the team’s best shot differential of the season — led by five shots apiece from forwards Patrick Brown and Brandon Pirri.
- Goaltender Garret Sparks stopped 16 shots.
BY THE NUMBERS
1: Forward Lucas Elvenes, the Wolves’ lone All-Star representative, continues to rank among the top-scoring rookies in the AHL. With his assist on Friday night’s game-winning goal by Jimmy Schuldt, Elvenes pushed his team-high scoring totals to 34 points and 26 assists. The 20-year-old from Angelholm, Sweden, Elvenes ranks fourth among all AHL rookies in points and owns second in assists.
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.
10.39: The Chicago Wolves average just 10.39 penalty minutes per game. That’s the fewest among Western Conference teams and third-fewest overall among the AHL’s 31 squads. If the Wolves maintain this pace the rest of the year, then they’ll break the franchise record for fewest PIMS in a season. The 2017-18 Wolves set the mark by averaging 11.16 penalty minutes per game.
21: The Wolves’ penalty kill units are on a roll again. They have killed 21 consecutive penalties dating back to the opening minutes of their Jan. 10 win at San Antonio. Chicago has not allowed a power-play goal in the last 359 minutes and 48 seconds. How much longer might the streak go? Texas ranks 21st of the AHL’s 31 teams with a 15.8 percent conversion rate on the power play. In the teams’ first five meetings this season, the Stars have converted 2 of 15 power plays (13.3 percent).
83: When the Wolves received center Nicolas Roy and defenseman Nic Hague from Vegas (NHL) on Tuesday and sent forwards Ben Jones and Jermaine Loewen to Fort Wayne (ECHL) on Wednesday, that pushed the team’s number of regular-season transactions to 83. Last year, the Wolves needed just 57 transactions to get through the season.
130:45: After center Gage Quinney wrapped up his hat trick at 8:52 of the second period on Jan. 18 against Milwaukee, the Wolves went 130 minutes and 45 seconds without a tally until forward Brandon Pirri came through with 23 seconds left in the second period Friday night.
372: When forward Keegan Kolesar made his NHL debut with the Vegas Golden Knights one week ago today, he became the 372nd player in Wolves history to have NHL experience on his resume. Forward Cam Maclise’s Wolves debut on Sunday vs. Rockford made him the 646th player to don the Wolves uniform since the franchise was founded in 1994, which means 57.6 percent of all Wolves have appeared in the NHL. That percentage is even higher among goaltenders as 40 of the team’s 57 goaltenders over the years (70.2 percent) can say they’ve played in the NHL
|Friday, Jan. 31||vs. Milwaukee||Allstate Arena||7 p.m.||Tickets|
|Saturday, Feb. 1||vs. Manitoba||Allstate Arena||7 p.m.||Tickets|
|Thursday, Feb. 6||at Manitoba||Bell MTS Place||7 p.m.||AHLTV|