ROCKFORD ICEHOGS (6-11-1-0) AT CHICAGO WOLVES (13-2-0-1)
ALWAYS ROOM TO IMPROVE
The Chicago Wolves carry a pair of five-game winning streaks into today’s game. Not only have the Wolves won five games in a row against the Rockford IceHogs this season, they’ve won their last five games overall to improve their winning percentage to .844 — second-best in the AHL.
While the Wolves have outscored their opponents 26-11 over the last five games, head coach Ryan Warsofsky has not sat back and accepted everything that has happened on the ice.
“I know the results are great and the five wins (in a row) are great, but there are still a lot of areas in our game that need to improve,” Warsofsky said. “Individually, guys need to improve in certain areas in order to play in the National Hockey League. That’s what we’re here to do. Yeah, we want to win. We want to have success. But, ultimately, we want guys to play in the National Hockey League. And you have to play a certain way to play there…a lot of teaching that needs to be done.”
As an example from Thursday’s 5-2 home win over the Grand Rapids Griffins, almost everyone focused on rehabbing Carolina Hurricanes goaltender Petr Mrazek’s remarkable 43-save performance. Warsofsky focused on the team’s play that required Mrazek to face 45 shots, including the Griffins’ 23-shot fusillade during the second period.
“The second period might have been the worst period of our season,” Warsofsky said after the game. “In the third, we found a way to tighten it up a little bit, but obviously a lot of teaching that will go on (during Friday’s practice).
“Stuff that we talk about a lot is closing quicker. Especially in our own end, we need to get on teams a little bit quicker. I think we take a little bit of a breath and create some space — and players that have space at this level and have a lot of skill can make you pay. It’s been an emphasis for the last week about how we need to close a little quicker. We’re going to continue to work on it and get better at it.”
A FRIDAY FULL OF MOVES
Turns out goaltender Petr Mrazek and forward Max McCormick weren’t meant for a long-term stay in Chicago. With the Carolina Hurricanes in Chicago to face the Blackhawks on Tuesday and Thursday, it was an easy move for Mrazek and McCormick to join the Wolves for Thursday afternoon’s game.
They were recalled Friday by the Hurricanes, who reassigned rookie goaltender Beck Warm to the Wolves after his 18-day stint on Carolina’s taxi squad. Warm owns a 5-1-0 record and 2.02 goals-against average for Chicago. Goaltender Jeremy Helvig was reassigned to Fort Wayne (ECHL).
The Wolves signed forward Blake Murray, Carolina’s sixth-round pick in the 2019 NHL Draft, to an amateur tryout contract (ATO). The 19-year-old Murray produced 35 goals and 37 assists in 63 games last year for the OHL’s Sudbury Wolves.
we are the wolves
When Petr Mrazek rejected all 23 shots that the Grand Rapids Griffins fired during Thursday’s 5-2 win at the Wolves Training Facility, it sent historians scurrying to the record books.
While Grand Rapids tied its record for most shots in one period, Mrazek did not come close to the Wolves record for most saves in a period.
That honor has belonged to Wolves general manager Wendell Young for the last 25 years. He notched an absurd 27 saves during the second period against the Kansas City Blades on March 24, 1996 — a game the Wolves won by a 10-3 count as Rob Brown set franchise records for assists (6) and points (8).
last two games
- Assigned by Carolina (NHL) for a one-day conditioning stint, goaltender Petr Mrazek posted an AHL career-high 43 saves as the Wolves extended their winning streak to five games.
- Forward Anthony Richard scored two goals in the final eight minutes while defensemen Frederic Allard and David Warsofsky and forward Tanner Jeannot also produced goals.
- Mrazek rejected all 23 shots he saw during the second period.
- After the Wolves and IceHogs battled through four ties and three lead changes, rookie forward Jamieson Rees broke the final tie with a third-period goal to push Chicago’s win streak to 4.
- Rees broke the game’s final two ties with his two goals while Tanner Jeannot extended his goal streak to five games and Sean Malone and Ryan Suzuki delivered the other goals.
- Goaltender Devin Cooley stopped 20 shots to earn the win in his AHL debut.
by the numbers
1:If the Wolves play all 33 games on their current regular-season schedule, this season will only be 43 percent as long as a normal American Hockey League slate. But after providing that caveat, it’s still impressive that this year’s squad is well on its way to shattering the franchise record for most goals per game. These Wolves have scored 73 goals in 16 games — a league-leading average of 4.56 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.
5: For the first time in the Wolves’ 27-year history, a different goaltender has started each of the last five games. Not only that, but each goaltender went the distance and earned the win. Rookie Beck Warm started the trend with a 4-0 shutout on March 13 at Iowa. Rookie Jeremy Helvig followed the next day with a 6-2 win at Iowa. Antoine Bibeau registered a 6-3 win over Rockford last Saturday, then rookie Devin Cooley followed the next day with a 5-4 win at Rockford in his AHL debut. Petr Mrazek made it 5-for-5 on Thursday with his 43-save effort in a 5-2 home win over Grand Rapids. The quintet combined for a 2.20 goals-against average (11 goals in 299 minutes, 53 seconds) and a .930 save percentage (146 saves on 157 shots).
6: Wolves forward Tanner Jeannot has scored one goal in each of the last six games, which ranks as the longest goal streak in the American Hockey League this season. It’s the Wolves’ longest goal streak since Daniel Carr produced a six-game run Feb. 1-15 on his way to being named the AHL’s 2018-19 Most Valuable Player. Jeannot also owns a 10-game point streak (8G, 10A) that ranks as the AHL’s top active streak. It’s the Wolves’ longest point streak since Carr registered a 12-game streak (9G, 9A) from Feb. 1 to March 1.
39: The Wolves have played just 16 games, but 39 players already have suited up for at least one game. That’s two more that last year’s squad needed 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 15 skaters from the Nashville Predators organization have combined for 136 games of action. The 19 skaters from the Carolina Hurricanes organization (including the four signed to Wolves contracts) have combined for 152 games. Of the 39 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, Max McCormick, Petr Mrazek, Rem Pitlick, Sheldon Rempal, Drew Shore and Cole Smith.
41: When the Wolves signed forward Blake Murray to an Amateur Tryout Contract (ATO) on Friday, that meant Wolves equipment manager Ryan Shoufer had to pull No. 41 out of mothballs. Nobody has worn that number for the Wolves since Matt Martin in 1997-98. Meanwhile, this strange season has required the Wolves to debut five new numbers…with a sixth pending. Rookie forward Patrick Harper (43), defensemen Frederic Allard (46) and Alex Carrier (47), rookie forward Phil Tomasino (50) and just-released rookie defenseman Matt Murphy (52) have made history this season.
395: Since the Wolves started playing on Oct. 1, 1994, a total of 686 players have donned the Burgundy and Gold. When goaltender Petr Mrazek and forward Max McCormick suited up for the Wolves in Thursday’s 5-2 win over Grand Rapids, they became the 394th and 395th players in Wolves history who also has appeared in the NHL. Put another way, 57.6 percent of all Wolves have played in the NHL.
|Wednesday, April 7||at Rockford||Rockford MetroCentre||6 p.m.||AHLTV|
|Friday, April 9||at Iowa||Wells Fargo Arena||7 p.m.||AHLTV|
|Saturday, April 10||at Iowa||Wells Fargo Arena||6 p.m.||AHLTV|