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Your Favorite Number 31

There’s just something about the number 31 that connotes quality goaltending. This edition of the Your Favorite Number series, presented by Jewel-Osco, showcases two goaltenders who led the Chicago Wolves and two more who also did mighty fine work between the pipes.

Over the course of the organization’s first 26 years, most Wolves jersey numbers have been shared by several great players. To celebrate their brilliance, we are creating highlight reels of Wolves who wore the same jersey number and asking you to vote for your favorite.

This week’s clips feature four Wolves who made a difference while wearing No. 31: Pasi Nurminen, Ondrej Pavelec, Eddie Lack and Pheonix Copley.

Nurminen spent just one year in a Wolves uniform, but what a year it was! The Finland native was picked by the Atlanta Thrashers in the 2001 NHL Draft, which prompted him to come to North America at the age of 26. Nurminen played 20 regular-season games for the Wolves during the franchise’s first year in the American Hockey League. He also made nine appearances for Atlanta.

But when the Calder Cup playoffs began, Nurminen became the man. After AHL Hall of Famer Frederic Cassivi handled the first four games, Nurminen started the last 21 as the Wolves dropped Grand Rapids, Syracuse, Houston and Bridgeport to hoist the 2002 Calder Cup. He finished with a 15-5 record in the postseason with 2 shutouts, a 1.94 goals-against average and a .935 save percentage. For his efforts, Nurminen earned the Jack A. Butterfield Trophy as the postseason Most Valuable Player. Nurminen spent the next two years as Atlanta’s workhorse goaltender before returning to Europe.

Six years later, another European goaltender came to America to backstop the Wolves to another Calder Cup. Pavelec, the Thrashers’ second-round pick in 2005, arrived from the Czech Republic in 2007 and started 52 games for the Wolves during the regular season — including 50 of the last 59 as the Wolves rolled to a 53-22-2-3 record. Once the playoffs began, head coach John Anderson rolled with Pavelec almost exclusively. He started all 24 postseason games and played all but 17 minutes as Chicago stormed past Milwaukee, Rockford, Toronto and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton to capture the 2008 Calder Cup. Pavelec delivered a 16-8 record and 2 shutouts with a 2.34 GAA and .921 save percentage during hte postseason.

The affable Lack, yet another European import with a great pedigree, joined the Wolves prior to the start of the 2011-12 season. He earned a spot on the AHL’s All-Rookie team the year before he arrived, so he served as the Wolves’ primary goaltender and produced a 21-20-3 record with a 2.31 goals-against average and .925 save percentage. Lack started strong the next year as well, but suffered a season-ending injury in November and never played for the Wolves again. The Norrtalje, Sweden, native went on to spend most of the next five seasons in the NHL before retiring after the 2018-19 campaign.

Copley didn’t come from Europe, but he still had a long journey to come to the Wolves as a native of North Pole, Alaska. Copley shared the net with Jordan Binnington during the 2015-16 and 2016-17 seasons before being traded to the Washington Capitals. In just his second and third starts for the Wolves, he tied a franchise record by posting shutouts in back-to-back games. Copley finished his Wolves tenure with a 30-22-6 record with 4 shutouts, a 2.59 GAA and .913 save percentage. Copley joined the Capitals in the postseason for their 2018 Stanley Cup run and got to hoist the Cup on the ice after the Caps closed out the Vegas Golden Knights. He went on to play 27 games for Washington in 2018-19.

To vote for your favorite Wolves player who wore No. 31, visit one or more of the team’s social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram) and make your opinion known!

If you missed any of the previous episodes, here they are:

Your Favorite Number 2
Your Favorite Number 3
Your Favorite Number 4
Your Favorite Number 5
Your Favorite Number 6
Your Favorite Number 7
Your Favorite Number 8
Your Favorite Number 9
Your Favorite Number 10
Your Favorite Number 12
Your Favorite Number 13
Your Favorite Number 14
Your Favorite Number 15
Your Favorite Number 16
Your Favorite Number 17
Your Favorite Number 18
Your Favorite Number 19
Your Favorite Number 20
Your Favorite Number 21
Your Favorite Number 22
Your Favorite Number 23
Your Favorite Number 24
Your Favorite Number 25
Your Favorite Number 26
Your Favorite Number 27
Your Favorite Number 28
Your Favorite Number 29
Your Favorite Number 30