GRAND RAPIDS GRIFFINS (13-10-3-1) AT CHICAGO WOLVES (18-7-1-2)
TIME TO SNAP BACK
The Chicago Wolves have endured a lot of things together this season, but Friday night’s 5-4 loss at Grand Rapids Griffins was something new. For the first time, the Wolves surrendered a goal in the final minute of regulation with the game on the line.
When veteran Griffins forward Riley Barber scored with 13 seconds left, the Wolves went from expecting to shave a point or two from their magic number to leaving Van Andel Arena with zero reward. Grand Rapids’ regulation win kept its chances at the Central Division title alive while keeping the Wolves’ magic number at 7.
The closest the Wolves had come to experiencing such heartbreak happened last month on back-to-back Saturdays. On April 10 at Iowa, the Wild scored twice in the 19th minute of the third period to turn a 4-2 deficit into extra time — but the Wolves still earned the two points thanks to Sean Malone’s goal at 1:43 of overtime. On April 17 at Rockford, the IceHogs’ MacKenzie Entwistle scored at 17:49 of the third to forge a 3-3 tie that turned into a Rockford shootout win.
But in those instances, the Wolves still claimed 3 of a possible 4 points. What mindset will they carry into tonight’s rematch at the Wolves Training Facility: Disheartened they didn’t earn a point Friday? Or encouraged by scoring twice in an 86-second stretch to pull into a 4-4 tie with 4:58 left in regulation?
THE MAGIC NUMBER?
Because the Wolves lost in regulation and the second-place Cleveland Monsters didn’t play Friday night, Chicago’s magic number to clinch the Central Division and the Sam Pollock Trophy stayed at 7.
It can drop by as many as four points tonight as the Wolves host the Griffins and the Monsters host the North Division’s Rochester Americans (9-12-2-1). If Chicago winds up holding the lead it has owned since Day 1, it will mark the franchise’s fourth Central Division title in the last five years and 11th division crown since the team was founded in 1994.
The Wolves do not claim credit for division titles in 1999-2000, when they earned the best regular-season record in an International Hockey League divided into two conferences, and 2000-01, when they posted the best regular-season mark in the IHL’s Western Conference.
NOVAK CLIMBS THE CHARTS
Wolves center Tommy Novak spent the first two weeks of April on the Nashville Predators’ taxi squad, but has been making up for lost time ever since. With his three-assist effort Friday night at Grand Rapids, the 24-year-old from Wisconsin extended his point streak to five games (2G, 7A) that features seven assists in the last four games. His 21 assists (in 22 games) for the year share sixth in the AHL.
we are the wolves
Seventeen years ago today, the Chicago Wolves and Milwaukee Admirals met in Game 3 of the West Division Final at Allstate Arena.
One day earlier in Milwaukee, the teams had combined for 197 penalty minutes — a Wolves postseason franchise record.
The teams’ animosity carried over into Game 3 as the Wolves committed a postseason record 27 penalties, which meant the Admirals received 17 power plays (the most in Wolves history).
Somehow, the Wolves emerged with a 3-1 victory as Kari Lehtonen stopped 54 shots.
last two games
- The Wolves scored twice late in the third to tie, but Riley Barber’s goal with 13 seconds left capped a four-point night and gave Grand Rapids the win at Van Andel Arena.
- Forwards Dominik Bokk and David Cotton scored 86 seconds apart to forge a 4-4 tie with 4:58 left while forwards Anthony Richard and Phil Tomasino gave the Wolves a 2-1 first-period lead.
- Goaltender Beck Warm posted 22 saves.
- Iowa scored two goals in the first period and three in the second to pull away as the Wolves wrapped up six games in an eight-day stretch.
- Rookie forward Dominik Bokk pulled the Wolves even in the first period, then forward David Gust scored in the second for his first goal with the Wolves.
- Goaltender Connor Ingram stopped 35 of 40 shots before leaving due to injury. Beck Warm rejected 8 of 8 in relief.
By the numbers
1: With five games left in the season, the Wolves seem well on their way to lead the American Hockey League in goals per game for the first time since the 2008 Calder Cup champions accomplished the feat. This year’s Wolves average 4.07 goals per night, which stands 0.24 goals ahead of second-place Syracuse. However, they’re going to need to score 23 goals over these final five games in order to break the franchise record for goals. 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.
7: Wolves forward Anthony Richard scored on a breakaway 3:18 into Friday night’s game at Grand Rapids, which shouldn’t have been a surprise. The swift 24-year-old owns seven goals in eight games against the Griffins this year — compared to four goals in 17 games against all other teams. Richard’s seven goals are the most by a Wolves player against Grand Rapids since J.P. Vigier produced seven in nine games during the 2004-05 season. Richard spent the last four seasons with the Milwaukee Admirals — and scored one goal against the Griffins in each of those four years.
12: Nineteen-year-old forward Phil Tomasino scored in the first period Friday night to extend his goal-scoring streak to four games. He also owns six goals in the last seven games and seven in the last nine — and all seven of those goals have occurred in the first half of a game. Tomasino leads the Wolves with 12 goals and he’s one of five AHL rookies to have scored at least 12 goals this season.
45: The Wolves have played just 28 games, but 45 players already have suited up for at least one game after rookie defenseman Marc Del Gaizo’s pro debut April 29. This year’s squad appears it will run out of time 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.
55: Three of the Wolves’ four goals Friday night were scored by rookies, which means the team’s 14 rookie skaters have combined for 55 goals (or 48 percent of the team’s goals). Nineteen-year-old forward Phil Tomasino leads the rookies (and the Wolves) with 12 goals. The other first-year contributors are David Cotton (10), Dominik Bokk (9), Seth Jarvis (7), Ryan Suzuki (5), Jamieson Rees (5), Cole Smith (5) and Zach Solow (2).
64: Defenseman Josh Healey, the only Wolves player to appear in all 28 games this year, ranks second among AHL defensemen and sixth in the league overall with 64 penalty minutes. Healey had been leading the way among blue-liners, but Grand Rapids defenseman Dylan McIlrath earned 19 penalty minutes Wednesday night against Cleveland to surge into first with 68 PIMs.
69.5: The 1999-2000 Wolves’ path to the 2000 Turner Cup began with a .695 points percentage during the regular season (53-21-8; 114 points in 82 games). That points percentage has stood as the franchise record for 21 years, but this year’s group is poised to break that mark. If Ryan Warsofsky’s team picks up 7 points in their last five games, then they’ll finish with a .697 points percentage.
396: Since the Wolves organization played its first game on Oct. 1, 1994, a total of 692 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, 57.2 percent of all Wolves have played in the NHL.
|Monday, May 10||vs. Rockford||Wolves Training Facility||6 p.m.||AHLTV|
|Wednesday, May 12||at Grand Rapids||Van Andel Arena||2 p.m.||AHLTV|
|Friday, May 14||at Rockford||Rockford MetroCentre||6 p.m.||AHLTV|