CHICAGO WOLVES (15-5-1-2) AT GRAND RAPIDS GRIFFINS (11-6-3-0)
AT LONG LAST
For more than a month, the Chicago Wolves and Grand Rapids Griffins have been trying to get together at Van Andel Arena.
Originally, they were slated to play on Friday, March 19. Couldn’t work as the Wolves observed the American Hockey League’s COVID-19 protocols. They were supposed to meet March 23. No go for the same reason.
Once of those games was shifted to April 13. Couldn’t do it as the Griffins observed COVID-19 protocols. So the game was moved to April 15, but not for long as that became the fourth time the Wolves and Griffins couldn’t be in the same arena at the same time.
But this is the week (hopefully) that everything works out. In addition to playin tonight, the Wolves are planning to return to Grand Rapids on Thursday. If both games get played, then both teams will be caught up.
ARE THE NETS BIGGER ON THE ROAD?
Today’s contest marks the seventh of eight consecutive road games for the Wolves. It’s the franchise’s longest road trip since the 2014-15 season — when head coach John Anderson’s crew visited Milwaukee, Grand Rapids, Iowa, Utica, Rochester and Adirondack Nov. 2-21 and posted a 5-3-1 record.
The first six games of the current trip have resulted in a rarity for the Wolves: They have allowed four goals or more in six consecutive games for the first time since the 2000-01 season. During that final International Hockey League season, Chicago allowed 35 goals during a 0-6-0 stretch from Dec. 23, 2000, to Jan. 3, 2001. Grand Rapids happened to be the opponent for three of those games. The Wolves recovered that year to reach the Turner Cup Finals.
The Wolves’ opponents have recorded 25 goals over the six games, but some context seems appropriate. Six have come with opponents on the power play, yet the Wolves have killed 78 percent of their short-handed situations (21 of 27). Two came in the waning minutes when the other team, trailing by one, pulled its goaltender to add an extra attacker and set up a 6-on-5 advantage. One came with the net empty. One occurred during 3-on-3 play during overtime. One was added to the overall total when Rockford won a shootout on April 17.
NOTHING IN THE SECOND?
Entering Sunday’s game at Cleveland, the Chicago Wolves led the American Hockey League in second-period goals per game with 36 goals in 22 games (1.64 per game). When the Wolves did not score during the second period Sunday, it marked just the fourth time this season that the team did not tally during the middle stanza. The first three times happened against Grand Rapids: Feb. 26, April 1 and April 3.
we are the wolves
Prior to this season, the Wolves had never played a regular-season game later than April 21. That happened in 2013 when the Wolves capped their season with a 3-1 home loss to Grand Rapids.
From 2000 to 2018, the Wolves have been a part of nine playoff games on April 26. The organization owns a 6-3 record on this date, though one of the losses might be the game that sticks out the most.
On April 26, 2018, the Wolves played the longest game in franchise history when they hosted Rockford in Game 3 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals. Goaltender Max Lagace posted a franchise-record 72 saves before the IceHogs earned the 4-3 win with Victor Ejdsell’s goal at 17:22 of the third overtime.
last two games
- Rookie forward Tyler Angle scored two goals for the second day in a row to steer Cleveland to the weekend sweep over the Wolves.
- Defenseman Max Lajoie and forward Anthony Richard scored goals for Chicago while rookie center Zach Solow earned his first pro assist.
- Goaltender Connor Ingram stopped 19 of 22 shots.
- 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.
By the numbers
1: For almost the entire season, the Wolves have ranked No. 1 in the American Hockey League in scoring. Chicago owns 95 goals in 23 games, which works out to 4.13 goals per game. For the first time since the first week of the season, this year’s squad is not on pass to break 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.
8: Forward Tanner Jeannot scored last 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 3-4-1-2 when he’s not.
15: Wolves defenseman Cavan Fitzgerald shares fourth among all AHL defensemen (and stands tied for ninth among all AHL players) with a +15 plus/minus rating that he has fashioned over 21 games. Nineteen-year-old forward Phil Tomasino owns a +14 plus/minus rating, which ranks fourth among AHL rookies and 11th overall.
41.7: Rookie center Ryan Suzuki leads all active AHL players in shooting percentage. The unselfish 19-year-old, who was the Carolina Hurricanes’ first-round pick in the 2019 NHL Draft, has connected on 5 of his 12 shots this season (41.7 percent) during his 20 games. There’s one player listed above Suzuki in the league’s shooting percentage standings, but he hasn’t played in the AHL since February. That player is former Wolves center Rem Pitlick, who buried 8 of 18 shots during the season’s first four weeks to take the AHL lead in goals and capture the AHL Player of the Month award. Pitlick has been with the NHL’s Nashville Predators since the beginning of March.
44: The Wolves have played just 23 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.
|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|
|Saturday, May 1||vs. Iowa||Wolves Training Facility||7 p.m.||AHLTV|