MANITOBA MOOSE (21-26-0-0) AT CHICAGO WOLVES (21-20-3-2)
TIME TO START A NEW STREAK
Last season, the Chicago Wolves dropped their final game before the All-Star Break and their first game after the break. Then the Manitoba Moose turned up at Allstate Arena for a Saturday night game, the Wolves earned a 5-2 victory and it triggered a 9-2-0-0 run that pushed the team into first place in the Central Division.
Can history repeat itself this season? The Wolves dropped their final game before the All-Star Break (at Texas on Jan. 25), dropped their first game after the break (7-3 to Milwaukee on Friday night) and now they welcome the Manitoba Moose to Allstate Arena for a Saturday night game.
While it’s mathematically impossible for the Wolves to catch the Admirals for first place in the Central over the next 11 games — the league’s No. 1 team holds a 23-point lead (70-47) — that doesn’t mean Chicago can’t make a dent in the margin and improve its playoff chances.
The Wolves are expected to try to start their climb with red-hot goaltender Oscar Dansk in net. Dansk was not available Friday night as he spent his time serving as the Vegas Golden Knights’ backup goaltender in a 4-3 win at Carolina. Vegas needed a goalie because top netminder Marc-Andre Fleury was suspended for one game by the NHL for skipping the All-Star Game. Dansk was returned on loan to the Wolves immediately following Vegas’ win.
Over the last two months with the Wolves, Dansk has been nearly unbeatable. He has delivered an 11-0-2 record with a 1.60 goals-against average and a .940 save percentage since Dec. 4. In the two games that didn’t end up in the win column, Dansk allowed a total of three goals in regulation. As an added bonus to celebrate Dansk’s excellence, the first 2,500 fans to enter Allstate Arena tonight are receiving a Dansk bobblehead, courtesy of Atturo Tires.
TRIBUTE TO KOBE
When the Wolves returned to practice Thursday following the All-Star Break, they discussed potential ways to honor the memory of Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna. They determined Wolves alternate captain Jaycob Megna will wear a No. 24 jersey personalized for Bryant during tonight’s warmups.
The 27-year-old Megna, who wears No. 24 for the Wolves, idolized Bryant more than any other professional athlete while growing up in north suburban Northbrook. He wore No. 8 for all sports as an homage to the five-time NBA champion, then switched to No. 24 when Bryant did.
After warmups, every Wolves player will autograph the BRYANT 24 jersey and it will be auctioned with proceeds benefiting Chicago-based charity Girls In The Game. To participate in the auction, visit the Chicago Wolves Charities table behind Section 105 during tonight’s game.
WE ARE THE WOLVES
Tonight marks this season’s fifth Adopt-A-Dog Night — presented by Premier Veterinary Group – and it promises to be a milestone occasion.
Since Wolves fans started adopting dogs at Wolves games during the 2001-02 season, 1,495 loving dogs have found forever homes. That means the 1,500th dog should be adopted tonight in Allstate Arena’s South Lobby.
The Wolves thank the fans for their generous hearts and their eagerness to open their homes and give these deserving dogs a better life.
LAST TWO GAMES
- Milwaukee forwards Daniel Carr, Frederick Gaudreau and Cole Schneider contributed four points apiece as the Admirals led throughout.
- Forwards Tye McGinn, Brandon Pirri and Lucas Elvenes scored for the Wolves while Keegan Kolesar handed out two assists.
- Goaltender Garret Sparks posted 25 saves.
- Texas scored two goals in a 24-second span of the first period and two in an 87-second span of the second period to pick up the win in the Wolves’ final game before the AHL All-Star Break.
- Forwards Nicolas Roy and Keegan Kolesar scored power-play goals in the first period and forward Jake Leschyshyn pulled the Wolves within 4-3 with his third-period tally.
- Goaltender Garret Sparks posted 14 saves.
BY THE NUMBERS
1: Serving as the Wolves’ lone representative at the 2020 AHL All-Star Classic has given rookie forward Lucas Elvenes a shot of confidence. Elvenes scored his ninth goal of the season Friday night against Milwaukee, which also gave him his first three-game point streak since he racked up an 11-game point streak from Oct. 12 to Nov. 7. During Monday’s All-Star Challenge, Elvenes posted two goals and two assists in the team’s four mini-games to help the Central Division earn second place. The 20-year-old from Angelholm, Sweden owns nine goals and 27 assists while playing in all 46 Wolves games. His 36 points share fourth among AHL rookies and his 27 assists stand second.
3: When Tye McGinn scored in the first period of Friday’s game against Milwaukee, he became the third player on the Wolves roster to reach the 200-point mark for his AHL career. The 29-year-old McGinn has racked up 109 goals and 91 assists in 419 games spread between the Wolves, Manitoba, Syracuse, Tucson and Adirondack. He joins Brandon Pirri (126 goals and 193 assists in 352 games) and Curtis McKenzie (115 goals and 159 assists in 340 games) in the 200 Club.
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.
10.74: Though the Wolves accumulated 25 penalty minutes Friday night — nearly a season-high — the squad averages just 10.74 penalty minutes per game. That’s the fewest among Western Conference teams and fourth-fewest overall among the AHL’s 31 squads. If the Wolves maintain this pace, then they’ll break the franchise season record for fewest PIMS. The 2017-18 Wolves set the mark by averaging 11.16 penalty minutes per game.
38: Defenseman Nic Hague was loaned to the Wolves last week after appearing in 38 of the Vegas Golden Knights’ first 52 games. The 21-year-old Hague, who paired with Zach Whitecloud to form the Wolves’ top defensive pairing when the team made a run to last year’s Calder Cup Finals, scored his first NHL goal on Jan. 21 at Boston. He also owns 10 assists this year. Hague played in his sixth Wolves game this season on Friday night.
91: Since the Wolves wrapped up Friday’s game, the team has been a part of three more transactions: goaltender Oscar Dansk was returned on loan, defenseman Zach Whitecloud was recalled from loan and forward Ben Jones was reassigned from the Fort Wayne Komets (ECHL) to the Wolves by Vegas. Those moves pushed the team’s number of regular-season transactions to 91. Last year, the Wolves needed just 57 transactions to get through the season.
372: When forward Keegan Kolesar made his NHL debut with the Vegas Golden Knights on Jan. 11, he became the 372nd player in Wolves history to put NHL experience on his resume. Forward Cam Maclise’s Wolves debut on Jan. 19 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.
|Thursday, Feb. 6||at Manitoba||Bell MTS Place||7 p.m.||AHLTV|
|Friday, Feb. 7||at Manitoba||Bell MTS Place||7 p.m.||AHLTV|
|Thursday, Feb. 13||vs. Milwaukee||Allstate Arena||7 p.m.||Tickets|