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Top 40 Countdown: No. 7

In March 1998, Chicago Wolves general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff was determined to do everything possible to put the Wolves in the best position to win their first championship. That’s when he swung a deal for the forward who stands No. 7 on the Top 40 Goal-Scorers Countdown, presented by Jewel-Osco.

Cheveldayoff brokered a deal with the Quebec Rafales that had the Wolves sending forward Dave Paradise and “future considerations” to the Rafales for forwards Marc Rodgers and Steve Larouche. Rodgers posted five regular-season goals and nine postseason tallies to help the Wolves capture the 1998 Turner Cup, but Larouche fared even better that season AND stayed in Chicago for three seasons more.

Larouche stacked up nine goals and 10 assists in the final 13 regular-season games, then produced nine goals and nine assists while playing in all 22 Turner Cup Playoff games. The Quebec native’s effort included a hat trick in the Western Conference Semifinal clincher against Milwaukee.

Larouche kept helping the Wolves reach great heights through the end of the organization’s International Hockey League tenure. The center was off to a great start in 1998-99 with 13 goals and 25 assists in 33 games, but suffered a season-ending knee injury on Dec. 29.

The Wolves finished one round shy of the Turner Cup Finals that year, but Larouche returned strongly in 1999-2000 and the Wolves returned to the top of the IHL. Larouche produced 31 goals and a league-leading 57 assists while playing in all 82 regular-season games, which earned the IHL’s John Cullen Award as the Comeback Player of the Year. Larouche tacked on 14 points (6G, 8A) in the 16 games the Wolves needed to capture the 2000 Turner Cup.

During his final season in Chicago, Larouche repeated as a member of the IHL’s First All-Star Team as he enjoyed another 31-goal regular season and followed it with an absurd 12 goals in 15 postseason games.

Then, at the age of 30, Larouche opted to join the Berlin Polar Bears in Germany’s top league. He played 10 more seasons overseas before retiring in 2011.

In addition to ranking seventh on the Wolves’ all-time regular-season goals list with 84, Larouche stands seventh in points (228) and assists (144). In postseason action, Larouche’s 27 goals rank second to Steve Maltais’ 64. He checks in at No. 6 in points with 52 in 53 games.

Want to enjoy more of the countdown?

No. 40: Gage Quinney
No. 39: Tim Breslin
No. 38: Nathan Oystrick
No. 37: Ben Simon
No. 36: Curtis McKenzie
No. 35: Kamil Piros
No. 34: Mark Mancari
No. 33: Simon Gamache
No. 32: Guy Larose
No. 31: Wade Megan
No. 30: Shane Harper
No. 29: Michael Davies
No. 28: Karl Stewart
No. 27: Cory Larose
No. 26: Pat Cannone
No. 25: Brian Wiseman
No. 24: Colin Stuart
No. 23: Brian Noonan
No. 22: Tim Bergland
No. 21: Joey Crabb
No. 20: Jordan Lavallee-Smotherman
No. 19: Dan Currie
No. 18: Dan Plante
No. 17: Bob Nardella
No. 16: Brandon Pirri
No. 15: Steve Martins
No. 14: Spencer Machacek
No. 13: Kevin Doell
No. 12: Niklas Andersson
No. 11: Ty Rattie
No. 10: Scott Pearson
No. 9: Derek MacKenzie
No. 8: JP Vigier