Welcome to Wolves Insider: the weekly report that gives you the latest Chicago Wolves news as the organization bids for its fifth league championship.
START FAST, FINISH STRONG
Here’s a riddle for those who love mathematical brain-teasers: The Chicago Wolves built a 2-0 lead in their first game, a 3-0 lead in their second game and a 6-0 lead in their third game. So how big of a lead are they projected to build when they visit the Grand Rapids Griffins Wednesday night for their fourth game of this American Hockey League season?
If you said an 18-0 lead, then you’re correct — even though that doesn’t sound particularly realistic. Nonetheless, while Wolves head coach Ryan Warsofsky appreciates any lead his team amasses, what he really loves is when his team plays with the same maximum, level-headed effort regardless of the score.
Take the Wolves’ 6-1 home win over Milwaukee Saturday night, for example. The Wolves scored three goals in the first period, one in the second and extended their lead to 5-0 just 69 seconds into the third. Instead of cruising through the rest of the game, the Wolves kept playing with the intensity and focus that Warsofsky craves. He liked it so much, he saved some of his biggest postgame praise for fourth-line forwards Maxim Letunov, Sam Miletic and Spencer Smallman.
“In the third period, there was a moment at the 10-minute mark when Letunov, Milly and Smallman came back (on the ice for their shift) and it was just exactly how you want it.,” Warsofsky said. “That’s something as a coach that really gets you excited. The average fan doesn’t see it, but it’s something that we’ve really talked about and they’ve bought into it.”
The Wolves hit the road for all three of this week’s games, but Warsofsky doesn’t expect his guys to play any differently than they did in last week’s home-and-home wins over Milwaukee.
“You can’t just do it on a Friday night and not (Saturday),” Warsofsky said. “It has to be consistent. That’s the type of team we’re going to be. We wanted to tell the rest of the league, ‘Hey, when you come into our building or we go into your building, it’s going to be tough.’ It’s that simple.”
SPREADING THE LOVE
The Wolves scored 12 goals in their first three games — and they’ve been coming from up and down the lineup. Of the 13 forwards who’ve played, eight have goals and 10 own assists. Of the eight defensemen who’ve played, two have goals and six own assists.
SATURDAY IS HOCKEY NIGHT IN CHICAGO
If you want to enjoy a live hockey game in Chicago on Saturday night, then you’ll want to count on the Wolves to make it happen! While the other team in town has just one Saturday home game this season, the Wolves are hosting 16 Saturday night home games — including all four Saturdays in November. That’s why Saturday is Hockey Night in Chicago. To get the best deals on tickets, email a Wolves ticket representative here or call 1-800-THE-WOLVES.
There are just a handful of AHL players who are averaging at least one goal per game — and this 26-year-old Des Moines native owns a spot in this group. Working on the Wolves’ top line and top power-play unit, Smith has registered one goal in each of the team’s first three games to become the only Wolves player with more than one goal.
Who owns the Central Division lead in points per game? Why, it’s none other than Wolves captain Andrew Poturalski. The 27-year-old from Williamsville, New York, has produced one goal and four assists in the team’s first three games to pace the devision with 1.67 points per game. Poturalski won the AHL’s scoring title last year and seeks to go back-to-back.
The Carolina Hurricanes drafted Makiniemi in the fourth round of the 2017 NHL Draft, but this is the 22-year-old Vantaa, Finland, native’s first season playing in North America. He made his debut something to remember as he rejected 41 shots to backstop the Wolves to a 3-2 victory Friday night at Milwaukee and earn his first AHL win.
- The Wolves scored three goals in a 93-second stretch late in the first period on their way to a 6-0 lead and a weekend sweep of the Admirals.
- Forwards David Gust, Stefan Noesen and Maxim Letunov scored in the first while forwards Andrew Poturalski, Stelio Mattheos and C.J. Smith added goals in the second and third.
- Goaltender Alex Lyon blanked the Admirals for nearly 59 minutes and finished with 18 saves.
- 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 David Cotton and defenseman Jalen Chatfield also scored for the Wolves.
- Goaltender Eetu Makiniemi posted 41 saves to win his North American debut.
NEXT FIVE GAMES
|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.