CHICAGO WOLVES (22-21-3-2) AT MANITOBA MOOSE (22-27-0-0)
FINALE OF THE BEST-OF-THREE SERIES
For the first time since the 2008-09 season, the Chicago Wolves are facing the same opponent three regular-season games in a row. The Wolves took the first one 5-2 Saturday night at Allstate Arena, but Manitoba got even with a 3-2 win Thursday night at Bell MTS Place. That makes tonight’s clash the rubber match of the set.
Manitoba’s victory in the AHL’s only game Thursday night reinforced just how tight the Central Division race figures to be for the final 65 days of the regular season. The Wolves hold third place with 49 points, but the eighth-place San Antonio Rampage are just six points behind.
None of the AHL’s other three divisions are nearly as tight. In the Atlantic, third-place Providence (57 points) and eighth-place Bridgeport are separated by 20 points. In the North, third-place Utica (57 points) is 11 points ahead of eighth-place Cleveland. In the Pacific, third-place Colorado (52 points) are 21 points ahead of seventh-place San Jose.
Nearly every Wolves game counts double the rest of the way as 26 of their final 28 games are against Central Division foes. The other two are home games versus former Central foe Cleveland.
HAGUE BACK ON THE WOLVES SCORESHEET
At this season’s outset, defenseman Nic Hague won the battle to join the Vegas Golden Knights’ blue-line corps. He made his NHL debut on Oct. 4 at San Jose, earned his first NHL point on Oct. 12 versus Calgary and produced his first NHL goal on Jan. 21 at Boston.
Through that Jan. 21 game, the 21-year-old Hague played in 38 games and contributed 1 goal and 10 assists. But that Jan. 21 game also marked the start of Vegas’ All-Star Break, which meant Hague was loaned to the Wolves. Initially it was viewed as a “paper transaction,” but Hague showed up in Chicago and has played the last three games with the Wolves.
He contributed an assist in Saturday’s win over Manitoba, then delivered one goal and one assist in Thursday’s loss. The goal belonged on a highlight reel as he carried the puck from the defensive zone to the offensive zone, used a pull-and-drag move to squeeze between two Moose near the left faceoff circle and then flicked a wrister over goaltender Eric Comrie’s glove into the top right corner of the net. It marked Hague’s first goal for the Wolves since Game 4 of the 2019 Calder Cup Finals on June 6.
The Wolves and the Moose are tonight’s AHL Facebook Watch Game of the Week. That means everyone can watch the game for free by going to Facebook Watch. If you want a notification when the broadcast begins, go to the AHL’s Facebook page and click the reminder button.
WE ARE THE WOLVES
The Chicago Wolves congratulate the Manitoba Moose on tonight’s 20th Season Game celebration. The Wolves and Moose have enjoyed a true rivalry ever since our first meeting in Manitoba way back on Oct. 12, 1996 (a 3-1 Moose win).
Also, congratulations to Jimmy Roy on having his No. 21 retired. He was the heart of the Moose teams from 1997-98 to 2005-06 — when this rivalry burned brightest and the teams met three times in four years during the playoffs.
Perhaps the true measure of the respect for each other? Moose owner Mark Chipman hired former Wolves GM Kevin Cheveldayoff to take over as GM of the Winnipeg Jets in 2011.
LAST TWO GAMES
- C.J. Suess scored a power-play goal with 3:46 left to break the tie and give Manitoba the victory at Bell MTS Place.
- Forward Lucas Elvenes and defenseman Nic Hague scored for the Wolves and they also assisted on each other’s goals.
- Goaltender Oscar Dansk posted 28 saves and earned his first assist since the 2018 playoffs.
- The Wolves produced the game’s three goals in a five-minute, 14-second stretch early in the second period to set the tone for the victory.
- Forwards Tye McGinn, Gage Quinney and Lucas Elvenes scored early while McGinn and Valentin Zykov added empty-net goals in the final minute.
- Goaltender Oscar Dansk stopped 30 shots.
BY THE NUMBERS
1: The Wolves have had three Manitoba-born players on their roster virtually all season, but only one made the trip home this time. Defenseman Zach Whitecloud, a Brandon native, was recalled from loan by the Vegas Golden Knights Jan. 31. He has played three games for Vegas and contributed a +2 plus/minus rating along with positive ratings in all metrics. Forward Keegan Kolesar did not make the trip after suffering a lower-body injury Friday against Milwaukee. He hopes to return before the Wolves’ trip to Manitoba at the end of this month. Defenseman Brett Lernout, a Winnipeg native like Kolesar, is on the trip and owns 2 assists in 29 games this season. And we can’t forget rookie forward Jermaine Loewen, who was born in Jamaica but grew up in Arborg, Manitoba. He scored his first AHL goal on Dec. 7 at Bell MTS Place in front of plenty of family and friends, but didn’t get much time Thursday as he fought Manitoba’s Logan Stanley and they both received game misconducts 7:57 into the night.
3: When Tye McGinn scored in the first period of last Friday’s game against Milwaukee, he became the third player on the Wolves roster to reach the 200-point mark for his AHL career. He added two more goals in Saturday’s win over Manitoba. The 29-year-old McGinn has racked up 111 goals and 92 assists in 421 games spread between the Wolves, Manitoba, Syracuse, Tucson and Adirondack. He joins Brandon Pirri (126 goals and 195 assists in 354 games) and Curtis McKenzie (115 goals and 161 assists in 342 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.
39: Rookie forward Lucas Elvenes leads the Wolves with 39 points (11G, 28A). Chicago’s 2020 All-Star Classic representative is one of just five rookies who leads his team in scoring — and he has done so all year after producing four points (G, 3A) in the Wolves’ opener on Oct. 5. He pushed his point streak to five games Thursday night with one goal and one assist. Elvenes also is riding the first three-game goal streak of his North American career. He shares third place in scoring among all AHL rookies with Belleville’s Alex Formenton and Utica’s Brogan Rafferty.
69: Goaltender Oscar Dansk suffered a regulation loss Thursday night for the first time in 69 days — Nov. 29 to be exact. During his long streak that began Dec. 4, Dansk registered a 12-0-2 record with a 1.63 goals-against average and a .940 save percentage. Thursday’s game marked just the second time in 15 starts that he allowed more than two goals.
96: Over the last week, the Wolves have been a part of 12 transactions as the coaching staff continues to adjust to injuries and the needs of NHL partner Vegas. The Wolves now sit at 96 transactions since the regular season, which is considerably more than normal. 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. 13||vs. Milwaukee||Allstate Arena||7 p.m.||Tickets|
|Saturday, Feb. 15||vs. Grand Rapids||Allstate Arena||7 p.m.||Tickets|
|Sunday, Feb. 16||vs. Cleveland||Allstate Arena||3 p.m.||Tickets|