CHICAGO WOLVES (7-0-0-0) AT GRAND RAPIDS GRIFFINS (3-2-0-0)
LAST TEAM STANDING
With the Tucson Roadrunners suffering their first loss Wednesday night, the Chicago Wolves stand as the only undefeated team among the 28 competing in the American Hockey League this season. The team’s best start in franchise history — eclipsing the 6-0-0-0 launch by the 2007-08 Calder Cup champions — has been buttressed by the stats.
- The Wolves lead the AHL in scoring at 4.86 goals per game. The next-best team, the Rochester Americans, averages 4.0 goals per night.
- With 34 goals for and 14 against, the Wolves lead the league in scoring margin. The fledgling Henderson Silver Knights, whose roster features 15 players from last year’s Wolves squad, rank second at +12.
- The Wolves have not trailed in a game since the 5:11 mark of the second period of their second game (Feb. 6 at Rockford). That’s a streak of 334 minutes and 49 seconds without looking up at their foe.
- The Wolves have led during second intermission in every game. They have never trailed at any time during the third period, though the Grand Rapids Griffins caught them during their last meeting on Feb. 11 at the Wolves Training Facility. The Griffins’ Dennis Cholowski scored at 6:07 of the third to pull the visitors into a 2-2 tie, then rookie forward David Cotton responded 86 seconds later with what turned out to be the game-winning goal.
- Rookie center Seth Jarvis, the Carolina Hurricanes’ first-round pick in the 2020 NHL Draft who turned 19 at the start of this month, shares the league lead in goals with teammate Rem Pitlick. Jarvis owns six goals in seven games while Pitlick, a second-year pro in the Nashville Predators’ organization, owns six goals in six games.
- Jarvis and second-year center Tommy Novak, like Pitlick a third-round pick by Nashville, share the AHL’s lead in points (9) with San Diego-turned-Anaheim forward Trevor Zegras.
- There are six players who share the AHL lead with 7 assists — and three of them play for the Wolves: Novak, second-year defenseman Joey Keane and second-year defenseman Jeremy Davies each have seven helpers. They stand at the top of the podium alongside Utica’s Sam Anas, Manitoba’s Tyler Graovac and Ontario’s Rasmus Kupari.
Since Antoine Bibeau backstopped the Wolves to a 3-1 victory over the Grand Rapids Griffins on Opening Night, the 26-year-old goaltender has been stationed on the Carolina Hurricanes’ taxi squad. On Monday, the Hurricanes reassigned Bibeau to the Wolves. Between Bibeau, Jeremy Helvig and Beck Warm, Chicago’s goaltenders boast a 7-0-0 record, 2.00 goals-against average and .940 save percentage.
WE ARE THE WOLVES
Wolves fans who followed the 2018-19 squad avidly — particularly those around Las Vegas — will recall much of the early season buzz revolved around rookie Erik Brannstrom. Everyone who loved the 2017 NHL first-round pick was said to be on “the Brannwagon.”
Brannstrom scored two goals in his Wolves debut and rang up 7 goals and 21 assists in 41 games for Chicago before being traded to the Ottawa Senators in the swap that brought Mark Stone to Vegas.
The 21-year-old Brannstrom has since split his time between the NHL and the AHL — and he finally delivered his first NHL goal Tuesday night against the Montreal Canadiens (and then added another one Thursday night against Calgary). He owns 2 goals and 6 assists in 41 NHL appearances.
LAST TWO GAMES
- Center Morgan Geekie scored two goals in the first period as the Wolves set a franchise record for fastest start to the season as they improved to 7-0-0-0.
- Center Rem Pitlick added his sixth goal of the season — tied for the AHL lead — while Tanner Jeannot added an empty-net goal and defenseman Joey Keane handed out two assists.
- Goaltender Beck Warm stopped a career-high 40 shots in the win.
- Center Morgan Geekie scored 19 seconds into the game to set the tone for four goals in the first eight minutes, nine goals in the first 23 minutes and the Wolves’ first 10-goal game since 2007.
- Geekie, Rem Pitlick and Seth Jarvis scored two goals apiece while Tom Novak delivered a team-high four points as 15 skaters produced points and set a team single-game record with 29 points.
- Goaltender Jeremy Helvig parried 35 shots to earn the win.
BY THE NUMBERS
4: For the first seven games, the Wolves lineup featured four teenagers as part of their forward lines: Seth Jarvis, Jamieson Rees, Ryan Suzuki and Phil Tomasino. (Well, technically, it was only five games because Rees sat out Feb. 16 and Tomasino sat out Sunday against Iowa). Regardless, the streak ends because Rees celebrates his 20th birthday today. The Hamilton, Ontario, native owns one goal, two assists and a +3 plus/minus rating in six professional games. Selected as a center by the Carolina Hurricanes in the second round of the 2019 NHL Draft, Rees has been playing on the wing this season. If and when he returns to the OHL’s Sarnia Sting, where he stacked up 18 goals and 43 assists in 39 games last year, Rees likely will return to center — but he told Wolves broadcasters Jason Shaver and Billy Gardner that he’s fine playing any position spot.
5: After serving his quarantine time following his Feb. 15 acquisition from the Toronto Maple Leafs, 30-year-old defenseman David Warsofsky (No. 5 on the roster) is eligible to make his Wolves debut tonight. David, of course, is the younger brother of 33-year-old Wolves head coach Ryan Warsofsky, who vows to coach his brother as hard, if not harder, than everybody else. “If he doesn’t like it,” Ryan said with a smile, “he can come at me as much as he wants.”
15: The Wolves have scored 34 goals through seven games this year — and a league-high 15 have been delivered by rookies. Physical forward Cole Smith became the latest to join the list when he scored his second career pro goal Saturday. Center Seth Jarvis leads the way with six tallies while fellow 19-year-old forward Phil Tomasino owns three. Forward David Cotton contributed two Feb. 11 against Rockford while Jamieson Rees notched his first pro goal Feb. 6 at Rockford. Rookie center Ryan Suzuki has scored a goal in two of the last three games. The Rockford IceHogs are next on the rookie goal-scoring list with 13.
16: The Wolves have killed off their last 16 shorthanded situations to move into the AHL’s top 10 for penalty kills. Assistant coach Patrick Dwyer heads up the PK unit that hasn’t been dented since Grand Rapids’ Kyle Criscuolo scored at 16:20 of the second period on Feb. 11. That means the Wolves’ streak stands at 203 minutes and 40 seconds heading into tonight’s game. They stopped one Griffins PP late in the third period, then went 5-for-5 on Feb. 16 at Rockford, 6-for-6 vs. Iowa on Feb. 20 and 4-for-4 vs. Iowa on Feb. 21.
17: Center Morgan Geekie made the most of his whirlwind stay in Chicago. He was loaned to the Wolves Thursday, showed up Friday, scored 19 seconds into his team debut Saturday (part of a two-goal, one-assist effort) and scored twice in the first period Sunday. For his efforts, he earned the AHL’s Player of the Week award Monday — right around the time he learned the Carolina Hurricanes recalled him. It marked the 17th time the franchise has reaped the Player of the Week honor since Chicago joined the AHL prior to the 2001-02 season. Geekie joins a list that consists of J.P. Vigier (2004-05), Darren Haydar (2006-07, 2012-13), Jason Krog (2006-07, 2007-08), Cory Larose (2006-07), Ondrej Pavelec (2008-09), Peter Mannino (2009-10), Paul Postma (2009-10), Nigel Dawes (2010-11), Ty Rattie (2014-15), Pat Cannone (2015-16), Brad Hunt (2016-17), Kenny Agostino (2016-17), Teemu Pulkkinen (2017-18) and Oscar Dansk (2018-19).
388: Since the Wolves started playing on Oct. 1, 1994, a total of 679 players have donned the Burgundy and Gold. When center Morgan Geekie made his Chicago debut Feb. 20, he became the 388th player in Wolves history who also has appeared in the NHL In other words, 57.1 percent of all Wolves have played in the NHL.
|Sunday, Feb. 28||vs. Grand Rapids||Wolves Training Facility||3 p.m.||AHLTV|
|Friday, March 5||vs. Cleveland||Wolves Training Facility||7 p.m.||AHLTV|
|Saturday, March 6||vs. Cleveland||Wolves Training Facility||3 p.m.||AHLTV|