ROCKFORD ICEHOGS (29-30-1-2) AT CHICAGO WOLVES (26-26-5-3)
For the third year in a row, the Chicago Wolves are hosting games on the Saturday night and Sunday afternoon that sandwich the return of Daylight Saving Time. In this case, the Wolves were frustrated enough after Saturday’s 3-2 shootout loss to the Tucson Roadrunners they might have gone home and punched their clocks instead of forwarding them an hour ahead at 2 a.m.
The Wolves built a 2-0 lead in the first period, but Tucson struck twice in the first 8:11 of the third to forge a tie. Chicago banded together to kill a high-sticking double-minor at the end of regulation and the first 36 seconds of overtime, but Tucson took the extra point by converting both shootout tries.
While the Wolves kicked themselves for not getting two points Saturday, the one point was still valuable as Chicago pulled into a fifth-place tie with idle San Antonio. Meanwhile, Texas made 45 saves to beat Milwaukee 4-1, Grand Rapids posted 35 saves to stop Rockford 3-0 and Manitoba earned a 4-3 shootout win over Iowa. Milwaukee and Iowa have all but clinched their Calder Cup playoff berths, but the race for the other two Central Division playoff spots gets crazier each day:
|TEAM||POINTS||GAMES REMAINING||RECORD||POINTS %|
|3. Grand Rapids||63||14||28-27-3-4||.508|
|5. San Antonio||60||17||24-23-7-5||.508|
ILLINOIS LOTTERY CUPDATE
Two weeks ago today, the Wolves earned a 5-1 victory over the Rockford IceHogs at Allstate Arena — marking the biggest victory margin in an Illinois Lottery Cup game since the Wolves bounced the IceHogs 4-0 on Dec. 8, 2018, in Rockford. In fact, the last five times a Wolves-IceHogs game has been decided by at least four goals, the Wolves have won all five times dating back to Jan. 6, 2017.
Alas, margin of victory has almost no bearing on determining the Illinois Lottery Cup winner. It’s all about victories — and Rockford owns a 6-2 advantage entering today’s game. The Wolves need to win all four battles in the next 27 days for a chance to keep the Cup for the fourth year in a row.
Considering goaltender Oscar Dansk handled the net Thursday and Saturday nights for the Wolves, it seems likely Garret Sparks gets the nod today. While Sparks holds a 1-3-1 record against the IceHogs this year, his other numbers have been outstanding. He owns a 2.20 goals-against average (11 goals in 300 minutes and 2 seconds) and a .930 save percentage (146 saves on 157 shots). He stopped 30 of 31 shots Feb. 23 when the Wolves earned that 5-1 home win.
WE ARE THE WOLVES
Twelve players this season have appeared both for the Wolves and the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights: Forwards Patrick Brown, Cody Glass, Keegan Kolesar, Brandon Pirri, Gage Quinney, Nicolas Roy and Valentin Zykov, defensemen Jake Bischoff, Nic Hague and Zach Whitecloud and goaltenders Oscar Dansk and Garret Sparks.
For Glass, Kolesar, Quinney, Bischoff and Hague, it marked their first regular-season NHL experience. Glass, Hague and Roy have earned their first NHL goals while Brown scored his second NHL goal during the first period of his first game with Vegas. Quinney picked up his first NHL point on Brown’s goal.
LAST TWO GAMES
- Tucson’s Jordan Gross and Markus Hannikainen converted on their shootout attempts to earn the extra point for the Roadrunners on Saturday night at Allstate Arena.
- Forwards Gage Quinney and Curtis McKenzie scored in the first period to stake the Wolves to a 2-0 lead, but Tucson rallied for two goals in the first nine minutes of the third.
- Goaltender Oscar Dansk stopped 29 shots during regulation and overtime.
- Forward Tyler Steenbergen’s rebound goal with 3:37 left snapped a 2-2 tie and lifted the Pacific Division-leading Roadrunners to the road win at Allstate Arena.
- Center Gage Quinney posted a game-tying power-play in the first, then forward Valentin Zykov’s power-play goal made it 2-2 just 19 seconds before Steenbergen’s game-winner.
- Goaltender Oscar Dansk stopped 26 of 29 shots.
BY THE NUMBERS
2: Forward Lucas Elvenes ranks second among all AHL rookies with 33 assists and shares eighth among all players in assists. Elvenes earned his 33rd assist Thursday night when he earned the secondary helper on Gage Quinney’s power-play goal in the first period. Elvenes owns 12 goals and 33 assists to lead the Wolves in scoring and share 24th place overall in the AHL. The 20-year-old Angelholm, Sweden, native is bidding to become the second rookie in Wolves history to pace the team in points. Ty Rattie became the first when he posted 31 goals and 17 assists in 2013-1417.
5: Veteran forward Brandon Pirri sits on his longest point streak of the season as he has racked up four goals and two assists in his last five Wolves games. The catch is figuring out when he’ll get a chance to increase that streak. Pirri has played in the Vegas Golden Knights’ last three games, including Friday night’s 4-0 loss at Winnipeg. Pirri and Nicolas Roy played Sunday and Tuesday nights in Vegas, then returned to Chicago for Thursday’s morning skate before being recalled Thursday afternoon.
6: Starting Monday, there will be six exclusive jerseys available online for the Chicago Wolves’ St. Patrick’s Day blind online auction. Jerseys for goaltender Oscar Dansk, forwards Brandon Pirri and Nicolas Roy, defenseman Zach Whitecloud and mascot Skates will be available along with one that allows the winner to personalize it with their choice of name and number. Proceeds benefit Easterseals Metropolitan Chicago and Chicago Wolves Charities. To place your bid, click here. The auction closes at 4 p.m. Monday, March 16.
17: Center Gage Quinney scored his team-high-tying 17th goal Saturday night — which also marked his third game in a row he delivered the team’s first tally (Feb. 25, March 5, March 7). He missed the Feb. 29/March 1 games in Manitoba because he was playing for Vegas.
26.82: The Wolves rank last out of the 31 AHL teams with 26.82 shots attempted per game, which is on pace to break the single-season franchise record for fewest shots per game. Last year’s Calder Cup finalists set the mark with 27.71 shots per game. Curiously, the Wolves enjoy a better points percentage when they don’t reach their shots per game average. The squad is 16-15-3-1 (.514) when attempting 27 shots or fewer — which includes Saturday night’s season-low-tying 15 attempts — but 10-11-2-2 (.480) when trying 28 shots or more. Rockford, by the way, ranks next-to-last with 27.5 shots per game.
136: Since the regular season began on Oct. 5, the Wolves have been a part of 136 roster transactions. Is that a lot? Well, consider that the Wolves made it through ALL of the 2018-19 regular season with just 57 transactions. Center Nicolas Roy has been the busiest traveler on the team — if not in professional hockey — as he has either been recalled or reassigned by the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights 30 times from Oct. 1 through Thursday’s recall by Vegas.
373: When center Gage Quinney made his NHL debut with Vegas on Feb. 22, he became the 373rd player in Wolves history to say he has competed for the Wolves as well as in the NHL. When defenseman Patrik Parkkonen made his Wolves debut Thursday night vs. Tucson, he became the 649th player to don the Wolves uniform. That means 57.5 percent of all Wolves have appeared in the NHL. That percentage is even higher among goaltenders as 40 of the team’s 57 goalies (70.2 percent) have played in the NHL.
|Friday, March 13||vs. San Antonio||Allstate Arena||7 p.m.||Tickets|
|Saturday, March 14||vs. Rockford||Allstate Arena||7 p.m.||Tickets|
|Sunday, March 15||vs. Manitoba||Allstate Arena||3 p.m.||Tickets|