CHICAGO WOLVES (9-2-0-1) AT IOWA WILD (3-6-2-0)
After struggling to deliver a consistent effort during a pair of home losses last weekend against the Cleveland Monsters, the Chicago Wolves spent a full practice week working on every aspect of their game. Their willingness to punch the clock and put in an honest day’s work on the practice ice appears to have fast-forwarded their progress as the Wolves knocked off the Iowa Wild by a 4-0 count Saturday night in Des Moines.
The Wolves excelled in most areas as they boosted their Central Division lead to 3 points over the Texas Stars while moving into a tie with the Providence Bruins for the second-best points percentage in the AHL (.792 with 19 points in 12 games).
Rookie goaltender Beck Warm — considered to be undersized at 6-foot — filled up the net and handled everything Iowa threw at him. He posted 31 saves to earn his first professional shutout in just his sixth outing.
Warm backstopped the remarkable penalty-kill units that frustrated the Wild on all seven of their power-play opportunities, which included a 5-on-3 situation for 64 seconds of the third period when Iowa still had a chance to cut into a 3-0 deficit. Instead, the Wolves walled up and limited the Wild to just one shot on goal over the ensuing two minutes — and only two over the game’s final 12 minutes.
The Wolves’ penalty-killers — a group that includes Tanner Jeannot, Sheldon Rempal, Josh Healey, Cavan Fitzgerald, Spencer Smallman and more — sacrificed their bodies time and again to block shots and prevent the Wild from enjoying extended time in the offensive zone.
Meanwhile, Chicago’s power play reached a new peak for this season. The Wolves needed just 10 seconds to convert a second-period power play as Tommy Novak won the draw, then every Chicago player touched the puck on a play that ended with Jeannot redirecting a Novak shot.
In the third period, the Wolves needed just seven seconds to convert as Novak won another draw and was rewarded with the goal — as four of the five skaters handled the puck on the play.
GORDIE HOWE HAT TRICK
After the Wolves swept Iowa three weekends ago, powerful forward Tanner Jeannot was recalled from loan by the Nashville Predators (NHL). During Jeannot’s four games away — which included his NHL debut on March 2 — the Wolves went 1-2-0-1 and scored 13 goals while allowing 15.
Jeannot returned to the lineup Saturday and recorded the Wolves’ first Gordie Howe hat trick since Keegan Kolesar on Nov. 23, 2018, at Rockford. Jeannot answered Cody McLeod’s call and fought at the 3:40 mark of the second, scored his fourth goal of the year at 16:28 of the second and assisted on Sheldon Rempal’s goal at 10:19 of the third.
WE ARE THE WOLVES
On March 8, 2020, defenseman Dylan Coghlan scored 3:24 into overtime to lift the Chicago Wolves to a 3-2 victory over the Rockford IceHogs. Because the AHL season was suspended a few days later, Coghlan’s goal remains the last one scored at Allstate Arena.
It also remained the last goal scored by Coghlan — until the Vegas Golden Knights rookie went on a remarkable spree Wednesday night in Minnesota.
Playing in his 12th NHL game, the 23-year-old from British Columbia notched his first NHL goal 1:42 into the night. Then he added two more in the final six minutes of regulation to become the first defenseman in Vegas’ four-year history to produce a hat trick. Only two other defensemen in NHL history — New Jersey’s Uli Heimer in 1984 and Montreal’s Joe Hall in 1918 — scored their first three goals in the same game.
LAST TWO GAMES
- Rookie goaltender Beck Warm recorded the first shutout of his professional career while the Wolves’ special teams scored two power plays and went 7-of-7 on the penalty kill.
- Forwards Dominik Bokk, Tanner Jeannot, Tommy Novak and Sheldon Rempal each produced one goal and one assist as Chicago scored twice in the second and third periods.
- Warm posted 31 saves as the Wolves earned their first shutout since Feb. 7, 2020.
- The Monsters scored two goals in the opening 13 minutes and the Wolves couldn’t catch up in the back half of a two-game set in Hoffman Estates.
- Rookie forward Dominik Bokk recorded his first professional goal in North America — set up by center Sean Malone and forward Lukas Craggs — to pull the Wolves within 2-1 in the second.
- Goaltender Beck Warm stopped 31 of 34 shots.
BY THE NUMBERS
1: Yes, this is a unique season. Yes, it’s early in this unique season. Yes, the Wolves’ season will only be 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 on pace to shatter the franchise record for most goals per game. These Wolves have scored 51 goals in 12 games — a league-leading average of 4.25 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 12 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 10 games, the team that has scored first went ahead and earned the win without trailing.
6: This is how many pro games it took for goaltender Beck Warm to earn his first professional shutout — as the 21-year-old Whistler, British Columbia, native stopped 31 shots Saturday night to register his first whitewash. Warm was not drafted out of the Western Hockey League, so he signed an AHL contract with the Wolves in November. He was penciled in as No. 4 on the depth chart, but then Kasimir Kaskisuo was recalled to Nashville’s taxi squad and Antoine Bibeau was recalled to Carolina’s taxi squad. That made room for Jeremy Helvig and Warm, who won his first four starts while posting a 2.25 goals-against average and a .940 save percentage. That inspired the Hurricanes to sign Warm to a two-year, two-way deal on March 6 that included a $50,000 bonus.
8: Each game, the Wolves host a First Goal Pool where one fan who correctly predicts Chicago’s first goal-scorer wins a $50 gift card to Pet Supplies Plus. To date, eight Wolves have recorded the team’s first goal — and it’s split evenly between rookies (Seth Jarvis 3, Dominik Bokk 2 and Phil Tomasino) and veterans (Morgan Geekie 2, Max Lajoie, Tommy Novak, Rem Pitlick and Anthony Richard).
34: The Wolves have played just 12 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 106 games of action. The 17 skaters from the Carolina Hurricanes organization (including the three signed to Wolves contracts) also have combined for 110 games. Of the 34 players to compete for the Wolves this season, 10 have played in the NHL this season as well: Frederic Allard, Alex Carrier, Jeremy Davies, Morgan Geekie, Tanner Jeannot, Sean Malone, Rem Pitlick, Sheldon Rempal, Drew Shore and Cole Smith.
393: Since the Wolves started playing on Oct. 1, 1994, a total of 681 players have donned the Burgundy and Gold. When defenseman Frederic Allard made his NHL debut Saturday night for Nashville against the defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning, he became the 393rd player in Wolves history who also has appeared in the NHL. In other words, 57.7 percent of all Wolves have played in the NHL.
|Friday, March 19||at Grand Rapids||Van Andel Arena||5 p.m.||AHLTV|
|Tuesday, March 23||at Grand Rapids||Van Andel Arena||6 p.m.||AHLTV|
|Saturday, March 27||vs. Rockford||Wolves Training Facility||7 p.m.||AHLTV|