CHICAGO WOLVES (20-8-1-2) AT ROCKFORD ICEHOGS (11-18-1-0)
A NIGHT TO REMEMBER
Not only did the Chicago Wolves clinch their fourth Central Division title in the last five years with their 7-0 victory Wednesday night at Grand Rapids, they made a little history while doing it. For just the sixth time in the Wolves’ 2,322-game history (2,073 regular season and 249 postseason), they produced a hat trick and a shutout in the same game.
Rookie goaltender Beck Warm’s 35-save performance marked the 137th shutout in Wolves annals while rookie forward David Cotton’s hat trick served as the team’s first of the season and 107th in organization history. Coincidentally, all six shutout/hat trick combos have come on the road. Here’s the company they now keep:
|DATE||OPPONENT||SHUTOUT (SAVES)||HAT TRICK||SCORE|
|Jan. 31, 1997||at Milwaukee||Ray LeBlanc (16)||Brad Purdie||6-0|
|April 20, 2003||at Hershey||Norm Maracle (26)||Simon Gamache||6-0|
|Oct. 7, 2006||at Peoria||Michael Garnett (28)||Jason Krog||5-0|
|Dec. 27, 2013||at Lake Erie||Jake Allen (19)||Sergey Andronov||4-0|
|Dec. 8, 2018||at Rockford||Oscar Dansk (32)||Brandon Pirri||4-0|
|May 12, 2021||at Grand Rapids||Beck Warm (35)||David Cotton||7-0|
WHAT’S LEFT TO DO?
With two games remaining against Rockford and no postseason run for which to prepare, what can the Wolves use as motivational targets as they close out the season?
Points percentage: The Wolves can finish with the league’s best record, but it will take some work. Chicago sits at .694 entering tonight’s game, which ranks third in the American Hockey League. With two victories, they can max out with a .712 points percentage.
The Hershey Bears (.742) have two games remaining and the Laval Rocket (.742) have three games to go. If the Wolves win both of their games while the Bears lose both of theirs in regulation and the Rocket earns no more than two points from its three games against Toronto, then Chicago finishes atop the 28-team league.
Goal differential: This is another way to measure a team’s overall strength. The Wolves have scored 128 goals and allowed 89 in their first 31 games. That +39 goal differential leads the AHL by a good margin, though there are teams within striking distance. Laval (+30), Hershey (+29), Syracuse (+25), Henderson (+25) and Bakersfield (+23) are the other squads with at least a +20 margin.
Scoring: The Wolves have all but ensured they will pace the AHL in goals per game. Wednesday’s 7-goal outburst pushed their average to 4.13 per game. Only the Syracuse Crunch (3.71) are within a half-goal per night.
INTRASQUAD SCRIMMAGE AT NHL LEVEL
When the Nashville Predators hosted the Carolina Hurricanes on Monday night in both teams’ regular-season finale, several players on each team could say they’ve been teammates this season with several players on the other side.
Carolina’s lineup featured six players who’ve suited up for the Wolves this season: F Morgan Geekie, D Joey Keane, F Max McCormick, G Petr Mrazek, D Joakim Ryan and F Drew Shore. Nashville’s lineup featured four players who’ve suited up for the Wolves this season: D Jeremy Davies, F Tanner Jeannot, D Tyler Lewington and F Rem Pitlick.
we are the wolves
On May 13, 2014, while facing the Toronto Marlies in the Western Conference Semifinals, the Wolves (and thousands of other travelers) were stranded at O’Hare Airport while preparing to fly to Toronto for Game 3.
A fire at an air traffic control center in west suburban Aurora disrupted nearly 2,000 flights across North America. The Wolves wound up getting to Toronto well after midnight for their May 14 game against the Marlies.
Despite the chaotic and sleep-deprived situation, the Wolves battled the Marlies to a 3-3 tie in regulation before Toronto claimed the game on Jerry D’Amigo’s goal at 3:28 of overtime.
last two games
- Rookie forward David Cotton recorded the team’s first hat trick of the season and the first of his career as the Wolves clinched their fourth Central Division title in five years.
- Forwards Sean Malone and Sheldon Rempal and defensemen Max Lajoie and Frederic Allard also scored goals while rookie forward Phil Tomasino handed out three assists.
- Rookie goaltender Beck Warm stopped 35 shots to earn his second professional shutout.
- Rookies Phil Tomasino and Jamieson Rees scored in the opening 71 seconds as the Wolves scored four times in the first period to set the tone for the matinee win.
- Rees added a second goal and forwards Brandon Hickey, David Cotton and Tommy Novak also scored while forward Dominik Bokk and defenseman Josh Healey added two assists apiece.
- Goaltender Beck Warm posted 23 saves to pick up his team-high seventh win.
By the numbers
1: With two games left in the season, the Wolves are in good shape 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 4.13 goals per night, which stands 0.42 goals ahead of second-place Syracuse. However, they’re going to need to score nine goals over the final two 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.
8: Wolves center Tommy Novak set up the second of rookie David Cotton’s three goals Wednesday night to push his season-best point streak to eight games. The 24-year-old Wisconsin native has racked up four goals and eight assists during his streak that began April 26. His spree has boosted his season’s totals to seven goals and 22 assists in 25 games — or 1.16 points per game. He shares sixth place on the AHL’s assists list.
15: It’s fair to suggest the Wolves boast the most productive special teams in the AHL. Chicago has scored 32 power-play goals while allowing just 23. That +9 margin is tied for second in the league behind Cleveland (+10). However, the Wolves share the league lead in short-handed goals (7) while giving up just one shortie. That makes the Wolves a net +15 on special teams, which leads everyone. Cleveland stands next at +13.
32: Nineteen-year-old rookie forward Phil Tomasino dished out a career-high three assists in Wednesday’s game to push his season total to 32 points (13G, 19A). That puts him three points ahead of Tommy Novak for the team lead, which means he has a good chance to join Ty Rattie (48 points in 2013-14) and Lucas Elvenes (48 points in 2019-20) as the only rookies to pace the Wolves in scoring. Tomasino also ranks second among all AHL rookies in points.
45: The Wolves have required 45 players to get through their 31 games, which is just two players away from tying the franchise record for the most needed to get through a regular season. The 2010-11 crew needed 47 players to complete an 80-game schedule. Of the Wolves’ 45 players this season, all but two participated in victories.
62: Three of the Wolves’ seven goals Wednesday night were scored by rookie David Cotton, which means the team’s 14 rookie skaters have combined for 62 of the team’s 128 goals (or 48 percent of the team’s goals). Cotton has taken over the rookie (and team) lead with 14 goals while forward Phil Tomasino owns 13. The other first-year contributors are Dominik Bokk (9), Seth Jarvis (7), Jamieson Rees (7), Cole Smith (5), Ryan Suzuki (5) and Zach Solow (2).
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 has an opportunity to break that mark. If head coach Ryan Warsofsky’s team picks up 3 of the possible 4 points in their last t20 games, then they’ll finish with a .697 points percentage.
397: 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 Joey Keane made his NHL debut with the Carolina Hurricanes Monday night — wearing No. 44 and playing 19 minutes, 34 seconds — he became the 397th player in Wolves history to compete in the NHL as well. Put another way, 57.4 percent of all Wolves have played in the NHL.
|Saturday, May 15||vs. Rockford||Wolves Training Facility||7 p.m.||AHLTV|