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Gameday: So…we meet again


Saturday, Oct. 23 | 7 p.m. | Allstate Arena | My50 Chicago | AHLTV | Facebook Live

So…we meet again

The American Hockey League schedulemakers have wasted no time reminding the Chicago Wolves and the Milwaukee Admirals they’re the fiercest of rivals — and not the best of friends.

Last season, if you recall, COVID-19’s influence prevented the Admirals from fielding a squad during the AHL’s shortened season. To ensure Milwaukee’s prospects still had a place to play, the Carolina Hurricanes (the Wolves’ NHL partner) and the Nashville Predators (the Admirals’ NHL partner) worked out an arrangement with the Wolves to share Chicago’s roster.

Chicago’s and Milwaukee’s coaching, equipment and training staffs joined forces at the Wolves Training Facility from late January through mid-May to maximize the players’ development. With Milwaukee head coach Karl Taylor joining Wolves head coach Ryan Warsofsky and assistants Patrick Dwyer and Bob Nardella behind the bench, the Wolves paced the AHL’s Central Division from start to finish and finished with the fourth-best points percentage (.682) in franchise history.

But once the 2021 season ended on May 15, the Wolves and the Admirals went their separate ways. And thanks to this weekend’s back-to-back games — the Wolves won the opener 3-2 Friday night at Panther Arena — any goodwill built up last season should be worn away. As a reminder, each team’s roster boasts nine guys who were Wolves teammates last year.

The Chicago Nine are forwards Dominik Bokk, David Cotton, David Gust, Stelio Mattheos, Spencer Smallman and Ryan Suzuki and defensemen Cavan Fitzgerald, Joey Keane and Max Lajoie. All nine played Friday night. The Milwaukee Nine are forwards Patrick Harper, Anthony Richard, Cole Smith and Zach Solow, defensemen Frederic Allard, Jeremy Davies, Marc Del Gaizo and Josh Healey and goaltender Devin Cooley. All but Solow played Friday night. Del Gaizo and Josh Healey and goaltender Devin Cooley.


Last Saturday night, Katie Guay became the first woman to officiate an AHL or NHL game when she served as a referee in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s 2-1 home win over Lehigh Valley. Since that milestone event, referees Jacqueline Zee Howard and Kelly Cooke and linesperson Kelsey Mahoney also have worked their first AHL contests.

Tonight, it’s Samantha Hiller’s turn to make her debut. Hiller, a firefighter/paramedic for the Lake Forest Fire Department, joins Jordan Samuels-Thomas to form the referee combo for tonight’s rematch. Hiller’s resume includes officiating International Ice Hockey Federation tournaments overseas in addition to college and high school games closer to home.

Wolves color analyst Bill Gardner will sit down for a pregame interview with Hiller that will be aired on tonight’s My50 Chicago broadcast during the first intermission. It also can be seen on AHLTV and heard on Facebook Live via the Wolves’ FB account.

we are the wolves

Fans are encouraged to wear pink tonight as part of Breast Cancer Awareness Night, which benefits A Silver Lining Foundation and Chicago Wolves Charities (driven by Kia). Since 2010, generous Wolves fans have enabled the Wolves to donate $154,500 to A Silver Lining Foundation — which means 1,144 women who couldn’t afford a mammogram have received one for free.

ABC 7 Chicago’s Emmy Award-winning Roz Varon, a two-time breast cancer survivor, will handle the honorary pregame puck drop.



  • The Wolves scored one goal in each period to grab a 3-0 lead, then held on for their first win of the year despite two late Milwaukee goals during 6-on-4 power plays.
  • Forward C.J. Smith earned the game-winning goal with a power-play tally while forward RDavid Cotton and defenseman Jalen Chatfield also scored for the Wolves.
  • Goaltender Eetu Makiniemi posted 41 saves to win his North American debut.


  • The Wolves seized a 2-0 lead in the second period at Allstate Arena, but the IceHogs answered with four consecutive goals to ruin Chicago’s 28th season opener.
  • Forward C.J. Smith delivered a power-play goal, center Ryan Suzuki contributed a short-handed goal and defenseman Eric Gelinas added a power-play tally to pull the Wolves within 4-3 late.
  • Goaltender Alex Lyon stopped 17 of 21 shots.

By the numbers

2: Twenty-one-year-old center Jack Drury made his North American professional debut last Saturday against Rockford. Not only did the Winnetka native take the next step toward the NHL (he was the Carolina Hurricanes’ second-round pick in the 2018 NHL Draft), Drury took a step into the Wolves record book. His father, Ted, produced 21 goals and 21 assists in 68 regular-season games for the 2000-01 Wolves squad that reached the Turner Cup Final. Jack and Ted Drury join Chris and Jake Chelios as the only father-son combos to play for the Wolves in their 28-season history. Jack Drury also earned his first professional point in North America when he set up C.J. Smith’s game-winning goal Friday night at Milwaukee.

3: The Wolves boast a total of three Chicago-area natives on their squad. In addition to Winnetka native Jack Drury, who attended Loyola Academy for two years before leaving the state to play junior hockey, the Wolves also feature 22-year-old defenseman Joey Keane from Homer Glen and 27-year-old forward David Gust from Orland Park. Both made their Wolves debuts last season.

14: Last week, the Wolves announced 27-year-old forward Andrew Poturalski will wear the “C” this season — becoming the 14th captain in team history and the first to earn the title since Paul Thompson in 2017-18. Wolves fans remember Potularski because, when the Charlotte Checkers defeated Chicago in the 2019 Calder Cup Finals, he scored two goals in the decisive Game 5 and earned the AHL’s Jack A. Butterfield Trophy as the playoff MVP. Don’t tell anybody, but Poturalski and Milwaukee captain Cole Schneider are good friends. They spend their offseasons working out and golfing together in the Buffalo area.

41: Wolves rookie goaltender Eetu Makiniemi delivered a remarkable performance in his first game in North America as a professional. The 22-year-old Finland native stopped the first 36 shots he saw — including a pair of Anthony Richard breakaways 27 seconds apart midway through the second period — and finished with 41 saves to earn the 3-2 win. Makiniemi became the 26th goaltender in Wolves history to win his first game with the team — joining the ranks of such luminaries as Jake Allen, Jordan Binnington, Rick DiPietro, Kari Lehtonen, Ondrej Pavelec and Wendell Young. Makiniemi was the Carolina Hurricanes’ fourth-round pick in the 2017 NHL Draft.

74:14: The Wolves have not allowed an even-strength goal in the last 74 minutes and 14 seconds of action. Both of Milwaukee’s goals Friday night came in 6-on-4 situations when the Admirals were on the power play, then increased their odds by pulling the goaltender in favor of a sixth attacker. Last Saturday, Rockford scored its final goal when the Wolves had an empty net.

410: Since the Wolves organization played its first game on Oct. 1, 1994, a total of 704 players have suited up for Chicago. That includes 12 players who made their Wolves debut during Saturday’s opener against Rockford. Because nine of Saturday’s Wolves newbies joined the team with NHL experience on their resume — and because forwards Tommy Novak and Phil Tomasino, two members of last year’s team, made recent NHL debuts with the Nashville Predators — a total of 410 current and former Wolves have competed in the greatest league in the world. Put another way, 58.2 percent of all Wolves have played in the NHL.


Wednesday, Oct. 27 at Grand Rapids 6 p.m. Van Andel Arena AHLTV
Friday, Oct. 29 at Milwaukee 7 p.m. Panther Arena AHLTV
Sunday, Oct. 31 at Grand Rapids 3 p.m. Van Andel Arena AHLTV
Saturday, Nov. 6 vs. Manitoba 7 p.m. Allstate Arena My50
Sunday, Nov. 7 vs. Milwaukee 3 p.m. Allstate Arena My50


All games are streamed on AHLTV.