Welcome to Wolves Insider: the report presented by Power Crunch that has given you a taste of all Chicago Wolves developments as the organization enjoyed its 27th season and won its fourth division title in the last five years.
SHORT BUT SUCCESSFUL SEASON
Considering how much COVID-19 has affected professional and amateur hockey leagues since it took over North America in March 2020, it’s a big win that the Chicago Wolves got to play 33 games during the 2021 season.
But what the Wolves accomplished with their 33 games made it an even more successful 2021 campaign.
Between winning the American Hockey League’s Central Division title for the fourth time in five years, producing the league’s best goal differential (+38) and getting the chance to fast-forward the progress of multiple NHL first-round draft picks and other top prospects, head coach Ryan Warsofsky and his expanded coaching staff maximized their time.
Put another way: Yes, when it came time to battle other Central Division teams, the Wolves benefited from their dual partnerships with the Carolina Hurricanes and Nashville Predators. But they also benefited individually because they could face stronger competition in practice — when practices weren’t canceled to COVID-19 protocols and precautions.
“I thought our players got better — and that’s what both organizations wanted,” Warsofsky said. “I’m not just saying that because I’m the head coach. I thought all our coaches worked well together on what we wanted to do and what the plan was.
“There was times where it was challenging — whether it was due to COVID issues that we had, lineup changes where guys went up or injuries. But I thought ultimately it was a positive and success story. Obviously winning helps, but I know both organizations are happy with how it went.”
So WHAT’s NEXT?
The American Hockey League has announced the 2021-22 regular season will begin Friday, Oct. 15, and conclude Sunday, April 24. The AHL expects all 31 teams to complete a full season with a traditional Calder Cup Playoffs to follow.
While the AHL plans to release the full schedule in mid-July, they usually provide each team with a handful of “guaranteed dates” in advance. To be the first to know when the Wolves announce their guaranteed home games, stay tuned to ChicagoWolves.com and the team’s social media channels.
THE NEXT GREAT GOLDEN TICKET RAFFLE
On Thursday morning, the Chicago Wolves launch another Golden Ticket raffle to benefit Chicago Wolves Charities.
What’s the prize? A Wolves practice jersey autographed by the whole team! Actually, to celebrate the team’s great season, we’ll be awarding two jerseys! Only 50 chances will be available at just $21 per ticket.
To get your ticket, click here early on Thursday.
In his final appearance during his rookie season, 23-year-old center David Cotton recorded the team’s only hat trick of the year to help the Wolves clinch the Central Division crown during a 7-0 win Wednesday night at Grand Rapids. Those three goals enabled Cotton to pass his teammates and finish as the team’s leader in goals with 14.
Just as Cotton led the way offensively in the clinching game, this 21-year-old goaltender made all the plays in the crease as he stopped all 35 shots for his second professional shutout. Warm finished the 2021 season as the team leader in wins (8) and saves (383) while producing the team’s only shutouts of the year and earning a two-year deal with Carolina (NHL).
This Harvard graduate set the tone for both of the Wolves’ wins last week as he scored the opening goal Wednesday at Grand Rapids and Saturday against Chicago. Malone also handed out two assists Wednesday for a season-high three points. Malone, a stalwart at both ends of the ice, finished the year with five goals and 10 assists in 23 games.
- The Wolves wrapped up the abbreviated 2021 season just the way they started it on Feb. 5: With a 3-1 victory at the Wolves Training Facility in Hoffman Estates.
- Forwards Sean Malone, Jamieson Rees and David Gust scored goals while center Tommy Novak and rookie defenseman Marc Del Gaizo handed out two assists apiece.
- Goaltender Antoine Bibeau rejected 27 shots to register his 100th AHL win.
- Playing one skater short due to a rash of injuries, the Wolves fell behind 3-0 after two periods and couldn’t catch up in the IceHogs’ home finale.
- Center Tommy Novak pushed his point streak to nine games with a third-period goal that was assisted by Brandon Hickey and Luke Evangelista.
- Goaltender Beck Warm posted 20 saves.
- 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.