CLEVELAND MONSTERS (2-3-1-0) AT CHICAGO WOLVES (8-1-0-0)
SUCCESS BREEDS SUBTRACTION
The Chicago Wolves share the American Hockey League’s best record with the Henderson Silver Knights (who coincidentally feature 13 Wolves from last year on their active roster).
The Wolves are head and shoulders above everybody in the AHL in goal-scoring. Head coach Ryan Warsofsky’s team averages 4.78 goals per game while the closest team, the Utica Comets, averages 3.88 per night. (By the way, it has been nearly 30 years since an AHL team averaged 4.78 goals per game.)
The Wolves also boasting a league-leading +21 margin between goals (43) and goals allowed (22). Henderson, at +15, is the only other team with a positive margin greater than 10.
(The Wolves also are far and away the AHL leader in penalty minutes with 18.9 per game…we’ll chalk that up to wanting to be at the top of every list.)
Why do we bring all of this up? Because when AHL players succeed, their NHL partners take notice. In recent days, the Wolves’ roster has been affected by multiple moves.
1) Center Rem Pitlick, the AHL leader in goals with 8, was recalled from loan Thursday by the Nashville Predators. At the same time, defenseman Jeremy Davies, who shares the AHL lead in assists with 9, was recalled from loan. Both have been assigned to their taxi squad.
2) Center Seth Jarvis, who started this week as the AHL leader in points with 11, was reassigned to the Western Hockey League’s Portland Winterhawks on Tuesday by the Carolina Hurricanes.
3) Physical forward Tanner Jeannot, who produced three goals and five assists in six Wolves games, spent a week with Nashville and earned his NHL debut Tuesday night against, coincidentally, the Carolina Hurricanes. If Jeannot cannot get back from Nashville in time for tonight’s game, then the Wolves will be without the players who scored 22 of their 43 goals and handed out 23 of their 73 assists to date.
JARVIS REJOINS JUNIORS
As mentioned above, 19-year-old rookie center Seth Jarvis returned to juniors this week as some Western Hockey League teams plan to start playing March 18. Jarvis’ return was mandated by the agreement between the NHL and Canada’s Central Hockey League, which doesn’t allow Canadian youth to play in the AHL until they’re 20 or have four years of junior under their belt.
“It’s been nice to have fun with these guys here and enjoy my time,” Jarvis said. “It’d be nice to keep playing here with these guys, but going back, I think I’m going to enjoy every moment of it. I think juniors is kind of the best years of your life.
WE ARE THE WOLVES
When the Chicago Wolves won Feb. 28, it improved the team’s record to 6-0-0-0 at home. This tied the franchise record set by the 1996-97 team for the best start at home.
While this year’s team played six of its first nine games on home ice, the 1996-97 team faced such an unbalanced schedule that it didn’t enjoy its sixth game on home ice until its 24th of the season.
Speaking of unbalanced: That 24th game — a 3-1 win over the Utah Grizzlies — marked the 20th start of the year for goaltender Wendell Young.
Forward Steve Maltais, whose No. 11 jersey is the only one aside from Young’s No. 1 jersey to be retired by the Wolves, got off to a solid start in 1996-97. After the first 24 games, Maltais owned 12 goals and 21 assists.
But over his last 57 games, he piled up 48 goals and 33 assists to finish with a career-high and International Hockey League-leading 60 goals.
LAST TWO GAMES
- Rookie forward Phil Tomasino scored 48 seconds into the game and rookie forward Jamieson Rees added two first-period goals as the Wolves avenged Friday’s loss at Grand Rapids.
- Defenseman Cavan Fitzgerald and forwards Seth Jarvis, Rem Pitlick, Anthony Richard and David Cotton also scored for the Wolves, who never trailed to wrap up the franchise’s best February.
- Goaltender Beck Warm posted 29 saves to improve to 4-0-0.
- Grand Rapids’ Riley Barber scored 3:59 into the game and as the Griffins built a 3-0 lead on the way to handing the Wolves their first defeat of the season.
- Center Rem Pitlick scored in the opening minute of the third — assisted by Sheldon Rempal and Frederic Allard — to pull the visitors within 3-1.
- Goaltender Antoine Bibeau rejected 31 of 35 shots.
BY THE NUMBERS
1: Yes, this is a unique season. Yes, it’s early in this unique season. No, the Wolves will not play nearly as many games as in a normal year. But after providing all of those caveats, it’s still intriguing to note that this year’s squad is well on its way to shattering the franchise record for most goals per game. These Wolves have scored 43 goals in nine games — an average of 4.78 per outing. The only Wolves team that has averaged more than 4 per game is the 2006-07 crew that paced the AHL with 4.14 per game.
4: Speaking of the 2006-07 Wolves, they were the only team in franchise history to score eight or more goals twice in a four-game span — until this year’s squad came on the scene. During the 2006-07 season, John Anderson’s Wolves racked up 10 goals on Nov. 4, 2006, at Peoria. (Jason Krog was the big scorer with 3 goals and 4 assists that day.) Then, 10 days later, they stacked up eight goals in a road win at Iowa (with Krog, Steve Martins and Brett Sterling each notching two goals). This year’s crew produced 10 goals on Feb. 20 against Iowa, then waited just eight days before putting up eight goals against Grand Rapids. Eleven Wolves tag-teamed to score those 18 goals — led by Seth Jarvis and Rem Pitlick with three apiece.
7: Rookie goaltenders Beck Warm and Jeremy Helvig have combined for a 7-0-0 record with a 2.43 goals-against average and a .931 save percentage this season. Helvig won two of the Wolves’ first three games (and allowed 8 goals in his three games overall) while Warm has handled four of the last six games (allowing 9 goals). Both have exceeded expectations to date. “Both goaltenders every night have given us a chance to win the hockey game. That’s all you can really ask,” said head coach Ryan Warsofsky. “They work hard, both of them. They work on their craft on the ice, off the ice. Beck’s done great. Helvig, who we had in Charlotte last year, is a kid that changed his whole life around, really. If you saw him last year and saw him now, you’d see a different person. He’s in great shape. His mental toughness is there. His game is getting there. I’m proud of ‘Helvy.’ He has battled back to where he was drafted (the fifth round in 2016) and why he was drafted.”
12: Twelve rookies have seen action for the Wolves this season, which includes seven players who have made their professional debuts with the Wolves: forwards David Cotton, Jason Cotton, Seth Jarvis, Jamieson Rees and Phil Tomasino and goaltender Beck Warm. The six forwards have combined for 19 goals and 15 assists. Central Division rivals Rockford (19 rookies) and Iowa (13 rookies) are the only AHL teams that have put more first-years on the ice.
34: The Wolves have played just nine games to date, but 34 players already have suited up for at least one game. Last year, the franchise needed just 37 players to get through the 61 games before the pandemic brought the season to a permanent halt. For those curious about the breakdown between the Wolves’ two NHL partners, the 14 skaters from the Nashville Predators organization have combined for 81 games of action. The 17 skaters from the Carolina Hurricanes organization (including the three signed to Wolves contracts) also have combined for 72 games. Carolina prospects Antoine Bibeau, Jeremy Helvig and Beck Warm have handled all of the goaltending.
391: Since the Wolves started playing on Oct. 1, 1994, a total of 681 players have donned the Burgundy and Gold. When center Sean Malone made his Chicago debut Saturday night and forward Tanner Jeannot made his NHL debut Tuesday night for Nashville, they became the 390th and 391st players in Wolves history who also has appeared in the NHL. In other words, 57.4 percent of all Wolves have played in the NHL.
|Saturday, March 6||vs. Cleveland||Wolves Training Facility||3 p.m.||AHLTV|
|Saturday, March 13||at Iowa||Wells Fargo Arena||6 p.m.||AHLTV|
|Sunday, March 14||at Iowa||Wells Fargo Arena||3 p.m.||AHLTV|