CHICAGO WOLVES (14-2-0-1) AT ROCKFORD ICEHOGS (6-12-1-0)
GOING FOR GREATNESS
As the Chicago Wolves and the Rockford IceHogs wrap up their four-game set over a 12-day stretch (the Wolves also found time to face the Grand Rapids Griffins once), it’s intriguing to chart how the current Wolves compare with some of the great teams of the franchise’s past.
With their 4-2 win over the IceHogs Saturday night in Hoffman Estates, the Wolves improved their record to 14-2-0-1. The only Wolves team that can match that is the 2007-08 crew that led the American Hockey League from start to finish on the way to hoisting the Calder Cup.
John Anderson’s 2007-08 squad actually rolled out to a 13-0-1-0 start — their only defeat a 1-0 overtime loss to a Milwaukee Admirals team backstopped by Pekka Rinne. They then dropped two out of three games, which moved them to the 14-2-1-0 record that equals the current team.
While the 2007-08 and the 2021 teams boast the same record, it’s not easy to compare the two — and not just because of this year’s shorter schedule with fewer opponents and less travel.
The 2007-08 squad featured Most Valuable Player Jason Krog enjoying a dominant season from start to finish, but he didn’t have two of his best teammates at his side for most of the first two months. Forward Darren Haydar, the 2007 AHL MVP, earned his longest NHL look as he posted one goal and seven assists in 16 games from Oct. 11 to Dec. 8 with the Atlanta Thrashers. Forward Brett Sterling, who led the AHL with 55 goals in 2006-07, also earned an early look from the Thrashers. They combined for only 10 appearances in the Wolves’ first 17 games that year.
This year’s squad also has dealt with considerable NHL juggling. Of the 40 players who’ve suited up for the team to date, only two have played in every game (rookie center Ryan Suzuki and fourth-year defenseman Josh Healey). Nineteen have spent time on the roster of either the Carolina Hurricanes or the Nashville Predators.
ALL THE STREAKS
If the Wolves can earn a victory tonight, then the team will be on its second seven-game winning streak of the year. Only three previous Wolves squads have pieced together at least two seven-game winning streaks in the same season: The 1998-99 team notched streaks of 9 and 8 games, the 2007-08 team constructed two seven-game streaks and the 2009-10 team posted streaks of 8 and 7 games.
After taking the final two games against the IceHogs last season, the Wolves also have won all six meetings with the IceHogs this year. That’s the longest winning streak for either team during this intrastate rivalry that began in October 2007. In fact, prior to this season, the Wolves never had won more than three straight against the IceHogs and Rockford never had won more than five in a row.
we are the wolves
Defenseman Jeremy Davies started this season on the Wolves roster and quickly made a difference while frequently piloting the team’s power play. Davies rolled up nine assists in nine games, which earned him a share of the AHL lead in assists and also earned him a recall by the NHL’s Nashville Predators.
Davies made his NHL debut on March 9 against the Carolina Hurricanes, then registered his first NHL point on April 3 when he set up a Luke Kunin goal in a victory over the Chicago Blackhawks.
last two games
- Forward Tanner Jeannot’s power-play goal in the final minute of the second period broke a tie and wound up as the game-winning goal as the Wolves won for the sixth game in a row.
- Forwards Dominik Bokk and David Cotton scored goals to help the Wolves keep pace early, then Jeannot scored for the seventh game in a row and Cole Smith added a late empty-netter.
- Goaltender Devin Cooley posted 31 saves to pick up second win over Rockford in two starts.
- 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.
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 77 goals in 17 games — a league-leading average of 4.53 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.
6: Because the Wolves have been juggling so many players from the Carolina Hurricanes and Nashville Predators organizations, equipment manager Ryan Shoufer has needed to create several new jerseys to accommodate everyone. So far, the Wolves have debuted six new numbers. Rookie forward Patrick Harper (43), defensemen Frederic Allard (46), Alex Carrier (47) and Joakim Ryan (48), rookie forward Phil Tomasino (50) and just-released rookie defenseman Matt Murphy (52) have made history this season by becoming the first to wear those numbers.
7: Wolves forward Tanner Jeannot has scored one goal in each of the last seven games, which ranks as the American Hockey League’s longest goal streak in two calendar years. Toronto’s Chris Mueller posted an eight-game goal streak from Feb. 1 to March 17, 2019. Jeannot stands two games away from tying the Wolves record set by Brett Sterling, who registered 13 goals over nine games from Dec. 12 to Dec. 29 in 2007. Jeannot also owns a 11-game point streak (9G, 10A) that ranks as the AHL’s top active streak. It’s the Wolves’ longest point streak since eventual AHL MVP Daniel Carr registered a 12-game streak (9G, 9A) from Feb. 1 to March 1 in 2019.
12: Of the 40 players to compete for the Wolves this season, 12 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.
40: The Wolves have played just 17 games, but 40 players already have suited up for at least one game. That’s three more that last year’s squad needed to get through the 61 games before the pandemic brought the season to a permanent halt. This year’s group has a long way to go to set the franchise record for most players used in one season. The 2010-11 crew needed 47 players to complete an 80-game schedule. For those curious about the breakdown between the Wolves’ two NHL partners, the 15 skaters from the Nashville Predators organization have combined for 144 games of action. The 20 skaters from the Carolina Hurricanes organization (including the four signed to Wolves contracts) have combined for 162 games.
396: Since the Wolves started playing on Oct. 1, 1994, a total of 687 players have donned the Burgundy and Gold. When defenseman Joakim Ryan made his Wolves debut in Saturday’s 4-2 win over Rockford, he became the 396th player in Wolves history who also has appeared in the NHL. Put another way, 57.6 percent of all Wolves have played in the NHL.
402: Defenseman Joakim Ryan made his Wolves debut Saturday night and posted a +2 plus/minus rating. You could excuse the 27-year-old if he felt rusty because it was his first game in 402 days. Ryan’s last action came on Feb. 26, 2020, with the Los Angeles Kings in a 2-1 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins.
|Friday, April 9||at Iowa||Wells Fargo Arena||7 p.m.||AHLTV|
|Saturday, April 10||at Iowa||Wells Fargo Arena||6 p.m.||AHLTV|
|Tuesday, April 13||at Grand Rapids||Van Andel Arena||6 p.m.||AHLTV|