IOWA WILD (2-1-1-0) AT CHICAGO WOLVES (5-0-0-0)
Saturday, Feb. 20 | 7 p.m. | Wolves Training Facility | AHLTV | Facebook Live
UNDEFEATED, BUT UNSATISFIED
After spending the first two weeks of the season facing the Grand Rapids Griffins and the Rockford IceHogs exclusively, the Chicago Wolves get their first look at the Iowa Wild tonight. Head coach Tim Army’s squad hits the road for the first time after going 1-1-1 against the Texas Stars and earning a 3-2 win over Rockford in Des Moines.
While excited for his players to face new competition, Wolves head coach Ryan Warsofsky is much more interested in seeing his team strive for a new level of excellence. He didn’t walk away from Tuesday’s 3-2 win at Rockford particularly giddy.
“To be honest, we’re really focused on ourselves and how we need to play for 60 minutes from shift-to-shift,” Warsofsky said. “I didn’t like our game against Rockford a few nights ago. I thought we had a good 10 minutes and then we just stopping playing. And then we let them back into the game. We fed them with some turnovers and we just weren’t all on the same page.”
In that win over Rockford, the Wolves built a 2-0 lead in the opening 13 minutes and owned a 15-7 lead in shots after one period. The IceHogs outshot the Wolves 32-21 over the final two periods as Chicago surrendered a season-high 39 shots on goal — the second game in a row Warsofsky’s team did not own the shot advantage.
While the Wolves remain on track to fulfill Warsofsky’s preseason goal to win every game this season, he knows his squad isn’t close to being perfect.
“Our systems, we need to clean up a lot,” Warsofsky said. “We need to get on the same page. And our effort level, I think there’s another gear. We can be harder to play against. There’s a lot of things. We had a really tough practice (Thursday). I’m sure the guys aren’t particularly happy with me. I know we’re 5-0. I get it. I see the record just as everyone else does. But I also see some things in our game that if we don’t correct them, an Iowa team that’s very good is going to make us pay.”
WOLVES GET BOOST UP FRONT
The Wolves already average 4.0 goals per game, but their offense received another boost Thursday when the Carolina Hurricanes (NHL) loaned center Morgan Geekie to the team. The 22-year-old Geekie stacked up 41 goals in 128 games over the last two seasons for the AHL’s Charlotte Checkers, then joined the Hurricanes shortly before the pandemic brought hockey to a halt.
Geekie scored three goals in his first two NHL games last March, then stayed with the Hurricanes throughout the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs and played in all eight postseason games. Geekie appeared in nine games this season, but made the move to Chicago after the Hurricanes acquired physical veteran Cedric Paquette to fulfill the fourth-line center role.
WE ARE THE WOLVES
It’s a shame Illinois Department of Public Health guidelines prohibit fans from attending professional sporting events because the Wolves have traditionally hosted big crowds on Feb. 20. One year ago today, for example, the Wolves welcomed 14,664 fans to Allstate Arena for a School-Day Game.
On Feb. 20, 2010, the Wolves hosted 14,104 fans for a 7-1 victory over the Houston Aeros (the forerunners for the Iowa Wild). Every player in the Wolves lineup posted a positive plus/minus rating as forward Spencer Machacek and defenseman Jamie Hunt posted two goals apiece.
On Feb. 20, 2016, more than 11,000 fans fit into Allstate to watch Michael Leighton and Pheonix Copley serve as the goaltender matchup and to see the Wolves in their Military Appreciation Jerseys.
LAST TWO GAMES
TUESDAY, FEB. 16: CHICAGO 3, (at) ROCKFORD 2
- Forward Anthony Richard scored 81 seconds into the game to give the Wolves a lead they would not relinquish in a road win Tuesday night.
- Nineteen-year-old forwards Ryan Suzuki and Phil Tomasino also scored goals — Suzuki’s being his first as a pro — as the Wolves opened a 3-0 lead through two periods.
- Goaltender Beck Warm rejected 37 shots to set a team season-high for saves.
THURSDAY, FEB. 11: (at) CHICAGO 4, GRAND RAPIDS 2
- Forward David Cotton scored two goals and handed out one assist as the Wolves turned a 2-2 third-period tie into their fourth consecutive win.
- Center Seth Jarvis delivered the team’s first goal for the third time in four games while Tanner Jeannot provided insurance with a short-handed empty-net tally with 1:55 to go.
- Goaltender Beck Warm stopped 36 shots to earn the win in his professional debut..
BY THE NUMBERS
2: Rookie goaltender Beck Warm has started and earned the win in each of the last two games — which have doubled as the first two games of his professional career. The 21-year-old from Whistler, British Columbia, has stopped 73 of 77 shots (a .948 save percentage) in earning those wins. Not too shabby for a young man who was signed by the Wolves as an undrafted free agent in November and stood fourth on the depth chart as camp began. But then Nashville (NHL) recalled Kasimir Kaskisuo and Charlotte (NHL) recalled Antoine Bibeau. “Beck Warm has been outstanding,” said Wolves head coach Ryan Warsofsky. “He has been a great surprise — and it’s not just us noticing. It’s the whole league, from talking to other coaches. Even Carolina, even us. We’re, like, ‘Whoa, we might have something here.’ ”
4: During the first 26 seasons of Chicago Wolves hockey, players wore 49 different jersey numbers: 1 through 42, 44, 45, 49, 55, 77, 84 and 92. Only five games into this season, equipment manager Ryan Shoufer has created four jerseys with new numbers that already have been worn: Rookie forward Patrick Harper wears No. 43, fourth-year defenseman Frederic Allard debuted No. 46 Tuesday night, veteran defenseman Alex Carrier donned No. 47 before joining the Nashville Predators taxi squad and rookie forward Phil Tomasino wears No. 50.
5: The Wolves are enjoying just the second 5-0 start in the franchise’s 27-season history. With a win tonight, this year’s crew will equal the team record set by the 2007-08 squad. Head coach John Anderson’s squad — led by eventual AHL MVP Jason Krog — broke out to starts of 6-0-0-0 and 13-0-1-0 on its way to the 2008 Calder Cup title.
7: Rookie center Seth Jarvis turned 19 on Feb. 1, four days before the Wolves’ opener. Despite his youth, the Winnipeg native owns 7 points in his first five games — 1 behind Ontario’s Rasmus Kupari, who has played seven games — and shares the AHL lead in goals (4). He scored one goal in each of the first four Wolves games and notched an assist Tuesday at Rockford to push his point streak to five games, which shares the AHL lead with Texas’ Thomas Harley.
11: The Wolves have scored 20 goals through five games this year — and a league-high 11 have been delivered by rookies. Center Seth Jarvis leads the way with four tallies while fellow 19-year-old forward Phil Tomasino owns three — all against Rockford. Forward David Cotton contributed two Feb. 11 against Rockford while 19-year-old Jamieson Rees notched his first pro goal Feb. 6 at Rockford. Rookie center Ryan Suzuki became the fourth Wolves teenager to score a goal this season when he delivered Tuesday at Rockford. The Ontario Reign is next on the rookie goal-scoring list with eight.
387: Since the Wolves started playing on Oct. 1, 1994, a total of 677 players have donned the Burgundy and Gold. When forward Drew Shore made his Chicago debut against Grand Rapids on Feb. 11, he became the 387th player in Wolves history who also has appeared in the NHL. The 30-year-old Shore has seen 95 games of NHL action since making his debut with the Florida Panthers in 2012-13. He spent the last two seasons playing in Russia, but signed with Carolina (NHL) during the offseason and played one game for the Hurricanes before joining the Wolves.
|Sunday, Feb. 21||vs. Iowa||Wolves Training Facility||7 p.m.||AHLTV|
|Friday, Feb. 26||at Grand Rapids||Van Andel Arena||6 p.m.||AHLTV|
|Sunday, Feb. 28||vs. Grand Rapids||Wolves Training Facility||3 p.m.||AHLTV|