CHICAGO WOLVES (15-4-1-2) AT CLEVELAND MONSTERS (12-7-1-0)
ROCKET’s RED GLARE
Considering the Chicago Wolves and the Cleveland Monsters rank 1-2 among American Hockey League teams in scoring this season, was there any doubt these Central Division rivals would supply plenty of fireworks Saturday afternoon at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse?
When the mad dashes and breakaways and power plays finally came to a halt, the Monsters walked away with a 5-4 overtime victory to cut slightly into the Wolves’ division lead. With three weeks left in the regular season, the Wolves own an 8-point margin over the Monsters and the Grand Rapids Griffins.
Chicago has played two games more than both of its closest pursuers and, presuming momentarily that COVID-19 protocols will not affect anyone else the rest of the season, the Wolves will wind up playing 33 games compared to the Griffins’ 32 and the Monsters’ 29.
Regardless of whether Chicago clinches its fourth division title in the last five seasons, this season is primarily about maximizing opportunities for prospects — and the Wolves have been doing plenty of that. At 11:41 of the second period Saturday, rookie forward Zach Solow accepted a stretch pass from defenseman David Warsofsky and roared in for his first professional goal. The 22-year-old produced in just his second game since joining the Wolves after a stellar four-year career at Northeastern.
The Naples, Florida, native became the sixth rookie this season to score his first professional goal with the Wolves. He joined 19-year-old center Seth Jarvis (Feb. 5), then-19-year-old forward Jamieson Rees (Feb. 6), 19-year-old forward Phil Tomasino (Feb. 9), forward David Cotton (Feb. 11) and Ryan Suzuki (Feb. 16).
VETS SERVED AS WELL
The Wolves’ young guns aren’t the only ones scoring at a remarkable rate. During the Wolves’ third-period comeback Saturday afternoon, defenseman Josh Healey threaded a shot from the left point through heavy traffic to score his second goal of the season.
While that might not sound like a lofty achievement for the only player to appear in all 22 games for Chicago this season, consider the 26-year-old Healey’s track record. The physical, defensive-oriented blue liner from Edmonton entered this season with just one goal in 137 AHL games since making his pro debut with the Stockton Heat on April 1, 2017.
Third-year pro Tanner Jeannot entered this season with 12 goals in 94 AHL games with the Milwaukee Admirals, but he produced 10 goals in 13 games for the Wolves before joining the NHL’s Nashville Predators.
we are the wolves
When the 2007-08 Wolves bolted out to a 13-0-1-0 start to set the tone for a Calder Cup championship campaign, Fred Brathwaite served as the team’s primary goaltender.
Then 35 years old, the Ottawa, Ontario, native started and completed nine straight games from Oct. 19 to Nov. 10. He posted an 8-0-1 record while allowing just 18 goals — and his only defeat was a 1-0 overtime classic against Milwaukee’s Pekka Rinne.
Brathwaite played his final game for the Wolves on Dec. 1, 2007, because rookie standout Ondrej Pavelec returned from his six-week stint with the NHL’s Atlanta Thrashers.
That marked Brathwaite’s last AHL game…but he almost played Saturday night for the Henderson Silver Knights. The 48-year-old suited up as the backup (complete with Thrashers mask) due to an injury. Brathwaite serves as Henderson’s goalie coach.
last two games
- The Wolves rallied from a 4-2 deficit in the third period to force extra time, but rookie forward Tyler Angle scored on a 2-on-0 breakaway 4:06 into overtime to give Cleveland the extra point.
- Rookie forward Zach Solow scored his first goal as a professional while rookie forwards Phil Tomasino and Cole Smith and defenseman Josh Healey also scored for the Wolves.
- Goaltender Beck Warm posted 25 saves in regulation and seven in overtime.
- Rockford’s Tim Soderlund and Brandon Pirri scored in the first two rounds in the shootout to give the IceHogs the extra point on their home ice.
- Rookie forward Cole Smith earned his first professional two-goal game while rookie forward David Cotton added a goal and defenseman David Warsofsky handed out two assists.
- Goaltender Connor Ingram stopped 37 shots during regulation and overtime.
By the numbers
1: For almost the entire season, the Wolves have ranked No. 1 in the American Hockey League in scoring. Chicago owns 93 goals in 22 games, which works out to 4.23 goals per game. The Cleveland Monsters, meanwhile, rank second with 3.90 goals per game. On Saturday, the Monsters became the first team to score five goals against the Wolves this season. If the Wolves maintain their scoring pace for their final 11 regular-season games, they’ll shatter the franchise record for goals per game. 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: When the Wolves played Saturday, it kicked off a stretch where they’re scheduled to play six games in an eight-day stretch. This marks the first time since the 2004-05 sesaon that a Wolves squad has been asked to do this. From Nov. 24 to Dec. 1, the Wolves posted a 4-1-1 record as they hosted two games and traveled to Grand Rapids, San Antonio and Utah. Kari Lehtonen backstopped four of the six games as the Wolves built their way to the 2005 Calder Cup Finals.
7: When rookie forward Phil Tomasino scored in the first period Saturday, he extended his point streak to seven games. The 19-year-old’s streak has been in effect since March 28, but it went on hold for two weeks as he was recalled by the NHL’s Nashville Predators to serve a stint on their taxi squad. Saturday’s game marked his first action since scoring a goal April 10 at Iowa. He owns 3 goals and 7 assists during his streak and 8 goals with 13 assists in 19 games this season.
8: Forward Tanner Jeannot scored Monday night against the Chicago Blackhawks to earn his second NHL goal in five games since being recalled by Nashville (NHL). In essence, Jeannot has maintained the hot streak he built with the Wolves. The 23-year-old holds an eight-game goal streak that’s the longest in the AHL this year. If Jeannot suits up for the Wolves again, he can tie Brett Sterling’s franchise record for the longest goal streak. Jeannot also can tie the AHL’s longest streak over the last nine years. Norfolk’s Tyler Johnson reeled off a nine-game goal streak March 3-24, 2012. Perhaps most important: The Wolves own a 12-1-0-0 record with Jeannot in the lineup, but 3-3-1-2 when he’s not.
12: Defenseman David Warsofsky set up Zach Solow’s first pro goal Saturday, which gave him 12 assists in 12 games this season. He’s one of only three AHL players averaging at least one assist per game (minimum 12 assists) — and the other two happen to be the AHL’s last two assist champions. In 2018-19, T.J. Tynan led the Wolves and the league with 59 assists. Last year, Sam Anas paced Iowa and the league with 50 apples. Tynan owns 20 in 19 games with Colorado this year while Anas boasts 14 assists in 13 games for Utica.
44: The Wolves have played just 22 games, but 44 players already have suited up for at least one game as head coach Ryan Warsofsky trotted out three new players (forwards Matt Boudens, Diego Cuglietta and Zach Solow) during last Saturday’s game at Rockford. This year’s squad is getting close to setting the franchise record for most players used in one season. The 2010-11 crew needed 47 players to complete an 80-game schedule.
396: Since the Wolves organization played its first game on Oct. 1, 1994, a total of 691 players have donned the Burgundy and Gold. When defenseman Joakim Ryan made his Wolves debut on April 1 in a 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.
|Monday, April 26||at Grand Rapids||Van Andel Arena||6 p.m.||AHLTV|
|Thursday, April 29||at Grand Rapids||Van Andel Arena||6 p.m.||AHLTV|
|Friday, April 30||vs. Iowa||Wolves Training Facility||7 p.m.||AHLTV|