CLEVELAND MONSTERS (3-3-1-0) AT CHICAGO WOLVES (8-1-0-1)
EASY DOESN’T DO IT
After six minutes of Friday night’s game between the Chicago Wolves and the Cleveland Monsters, the Wolves had fired 11 shots on goal. The Monsters had none.
After 6 minutes and 38 seconds, the Wolves still owned an 11-1 edge in shots — but the Monsters owned a 1-0 lead in goals. Though the Wolves answered just 12 seconds later to tie the score, that might have been just as bad for them as dominating the opening six minutes.
Cleveland kept battling, became the first team to score three goals in a period against the Wolves this season and didn’t quit until it owned a 4-3 shootout victory. The rest of the scoreboard — namely the 39-24 difference in shots — suggested the Wolves had the better of the action, but Wolves head coach Ryan Warsofsky and defenseman Frederic Allard knew better.
“I think we thought after the first half of the first (period), it was going to be an easy game, so we kind of slowed down a bit in our (defensive) zone,” Allard said. “I think we took too many chances in the offensive zone. We cheated a lot. And that cost us three goals that we wish we could have back.”
The Wolves scored one goal early in the second period and one goal early in the third period to force extra time and pick up a point, but Warsofsky wanted to make sure his guys didn’t come away thinking it was a moral victory.
“We thought we could just play in the offensive zone all night and it was going to be easy,” Warsofsky said. “Unfortunately, we’re learning that if we don’t play hard without the puck, if we don’t play hard in our puck battles and our races, and we don’t compete away from the puck, playing in the offensive zone is not going to happen.
“Another teaching moment where we need to realize if we want to play offense, we have to work away fom the puck. We have to be really good defensively. We have to be good in the neutral zone, so we can create turnovers, so we can break out pucks, so we can go play offense. We just thought it was going to be easy.”
ALLARD ALL GOOD
Defenseman Frederic Allard joined the Wolves more than a week late because he started this season playing 25 games in Austria with Villacher SV. The 23-year-old from St. Sauveur, Quebec, didn’t score in his Wolves debut on Feb. 16, but has been red-hot ever since. After posting his first Wolves goal and an assist Friday, Allard owns a five-game point streak that features eight points and a +9 plus/minus rating.
“I had so much time to train this summer and working on my weaknesses helped me,” Allard said. “Playing on the bigger ice in Europe, I worked on my skating and getting more in shape. Maybe I missed training camp in the NHL, missed some opportunities, but I’m right here, right now, and doing the best I can and showing what I got.”
WE ARE THE WOLVES
After the 1996-97 Chicago Wolves jumped out to a 6-0-0 start at home, they were tripped up in their bid for a seventh straight win with a 4-3 shootout loss to the San Antonio Dragons..
Sound familiar? The current Wolves jumped out to a 6-0-0-0 start at home — only to be tripped up in a 4-3 shootout loss to the Cleveland Monsters.
In 1996-97, Wendell Young was in goal for the 4-3 shootout loss. The Wolves general manager was in the middle of a rigorous stretch where he started 30 of Chicago’s first 35 games.
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
- Despite outshooting the visiting Monsters 39-24, the Wolves had to rally from a 3-1 deficit just to earn a point as Cleveland’s Justin Scott scored the lone goal in the shootout.
- Defensemen Max Lajoie and Frederic Allard scored their first goals for the Wolves while rookie center Ryan Suzuki tied the game in the third and rookie Phil Tomasino handed out two assists.
- Goaltender Antoine Bibeau made 20 saves in regulation and overtime and 2 of 3 in the shootout.
- 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.
BY THE NUMBERS
1: Yes, this is a unique season. Yes, it’s early in this unique season. Yes, the Wolves’ season will be roughly 43 percent as long as a normal year. But after providing all of those caveats, it’s still intriguing to note this year’s squad is well on its way to shattering the franchise record for most goals per game. These Wolves have scored 46 goals in 10 games — an average of 4.60 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.
2: Weirdly, only two of the Wolves’ first 10 games have featured any lead changes. Chicago recovered from a 1-0 deficit on Opening Night (Feb. 5) against Grand Rapids to earn a 4-1 victory. Then, the next day at Rockford, the Wolves fell behind 2-0 and 3-2 before securing a 5-4 win. But in each of the Wolves’ last eight games, the team that scores first has gone ahead and earned the win without ever trailing.
5: Head coach Ryan Warsofsky wants his defensemen to be aggressive in the offensive zone and jump into the play as often as possible. But prior to Friday night, Cavan Fitzgerald was the Wolves’ only blue liner to score a goal. Fitzgerald’s three goals are no longer alone after Max Lajoie and Frederic Allard tallied Friday night. Lajoie raced toward the far post to take a backdoor pass from Phil Tomasino for a first-period goal, then Tomasino and Lajoie set up Allard to spank a second-period blast past Cleveland’s Matiss Kivlenieks.
7: Because veteran goaltender Antoine Bibeau handled Friday’s game, look for one of the Wolves’ rookies — Beck Warm and Jeremy Helvig — to be in net today. They’ve 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 seven games (allowing 9 goals). Both have exceeded expectations to date. Warm, who signed a Wolves contract in the fall, was rewarded Saturday morning by the Carolina Hurricanes as he signed a two-year entry-level deal. The 21-year-old Warm receives a $50,000 signing bonus and will make $700,000 if he reaches the NHL this year and $750,000 if he gets there next year.
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, Ryan Suzuki and Phil Tomasino and goaltender Beck Warm. The six forwards have combined for 20 goals and 18 assists. Rockford (19), Iowa (13), San Jose (13) and Syracuse (13) are the only AHL teams that have put more first-years on the ice.
34: The Wolves have played just 10 games, 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 90 games of action. The 17 skaters from the Carolina Hurricanes organization (including the three signed to Wolves contracts) also have combined for 90 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 Sunday afternoon 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 13||at Iowa||Wells Fargo Arena||6 p.m.||AHLTV|
|Sunday, March 14||at Iowa||Wells Fargo Arena||3 p.m.||AHLTV|
|Friday, March 19||at Grand Rapids||Van Andel Arena||5 p.m.||AHLTV|