CHICAGO WOLVES (3-1-0-0)
AT MILWAUKEE ADMIRALS (1-2-0-0)
Since Day 1, the Chicago Wolves always have tried to have as many Chicago-area players on their roster as possible. The Wolves’ inaugural team in 1994-95, for example, featured big contributors such as Melrose Park’s Bob Nardella and Addison’s Tim Breslin. This year appears to be another banner season for local standouts as rookie center Jack Drury (Winnetka), fifth-year forward David Gust (Orland Park) and third-year defenseman Joey Keane (Homer Glen) have become productive staples in the Central Division co-leaders’ lineup.
Keane owns 1 assist this season. Gust has scored a goal in each of the Wolves’ last two games and owns 3 points (2G, 1A) in three appearances. As for the 21-year-old Drury, he needed to wait an exaggerated amount of time to be credited with his first professional goal in North America.
In Saturday’s 6-1 win over Milwaukee, Drury thought he had his first goal. A minute into the third period, Drury pounced on a rebound and ripped a rising shot from the right circle that appeared to hit the back of the net and bounce back into play. Drury skated in a semi-circle toward the boards as if prepared to celebrate. Wolves play-by-play announcer Jason Shaver, among many others, expected to see a goal signaled. Instead, play continued and Stelio Mattheos knocked home the rebound.
Read below to see how Drury (and everyone else) again thought he earned his first goal during the first period of Wednesday’s 3-0 win at Grand Rapids — but the Carolina Hurricanes’ second-round pick in the 2018 NHL Draft had to wait until his third-period power-play goal to deliver a no-doubter.
FOUR FOR FOUR…OR NO?
For one night, anyway, 26-year-old forward C.J. Smith became the second player in Wolves history to score a goal in each of the team’s first four games.
At the 5:20 mark of the first period Wednesday night at Grand Rapids, Smith held the puck at the point on a Wolves power play. When Smith spied Jack Drury open just outside the crease, he steered a firm pass toward Drury’s stick. The puck, Drury’s stick and Griffins goaltender Calvin Pickard’s pads all came together in the blue paint, then the puck went in the net for a 1-0 lead.
While the Wolves acted as though Drury tipped the puck — he went first through the handshake line — Smith wound up with credit for the goal. That meant Smith joined 19-year-old Seth Jarvis (2021) as the only players in Wolves history to score one goal in each of the team’s first four games.
Upon further review Thursday, everyone suspected Drury was the last Wolves player to touch the puck on that goal — so the Wolves are asking the league for a scoring correction that would leave Jarvis as the only one to post a four-game goal streak to start a season. Yet Smith still belongs in some nice company. Wolves legends Steve Maltais (2004-05) and Jason Krog (2007-08) are the only others who produced a three-game goal streak to start a season.
we are the wolves
The Wolves and the Admirals are scheduled to meet 14 times this year, which is the most regular-season matchups with one foe in Wolves history. It’s a convenient way for the Wolves and Admirals players who played together on Chicago’s roster last year to stay acquainted. There are 18 players on tonight’s rosters — nine Wolves and nine Admirals — who helped the Wolves win the Central Division last year.
Milwaukee has a bonus ex-Wolves forward in Cody Glass, who helped Chicago reach the 2019 Calder Cup finals. He joined the team in April and wound up scoring a team-high-tying 15 points (7G, 8A) in the postseason.This marks the seventh year in a row the Grand Rapids Griffins head coach boasts extensive Wolves ties.
LAST TWO GAMES
- The Wolves jumped out to a 2-0 lead for the fourth consecutive game and stayed the course to register their third win in a row.
- Rookie center Jack Drury recorded his first two pro goals in North America — both on the power play — while forward David Gust posted the other goal and Andrew Poturalski had two assists.
- Goaltender Eetu Makiniemi stopped 25 shots to earn his first shutout in North America.
- 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.
By the numbers
2: On Tuesday, the American Hockey League announced the four people who will be inducted into the Hall of Fame on Feb. 7 during the AHL All-Star Classic at Laval. Keith Aucoin and Nolan Baumgartner both have Wolves ties as they capped their legendary North American playing careers in Chicago. Aucoin ranked second on the 2014 Midwest Division champions with 43 points (11G, 32A) in 62 games. Baumgartner served as captain for the 2012 Midwest Division champions, then wrapped up his 16-year professional career to become a Wolves assistant coach on Scott Arniel’s staff. That launched a career behind the bench that finds him in his fifth year as a Vancouver Canucks assistant.
4: The Wolves have opened the scoring in all four of their games this season — jumping out to a 2-0 lead over Rockford in their Oct. 16 opener, a 3-0 lead on Oct. 22 at Milwaukee, a 6-0 lead against Milwaukee on Oct. 23 and a 3-0 lead Wednesday at Grand Rapids. Chicago is the only AHL team to have scored the first goal in each of its games.
7: Wolves captain Andrew Poturalski ranks second in the AHL in points per game among players who’ve appeared in more than two games this year. Chicago’s first-line center owns 7 points (1G, 6A) in 4 games for a 1.75 average — trailing only Springfield defenseman Scott Perunovich (1G, 8A). The 27-year-old Williamsville, New York, native also shares second in the AHL with his 6 assists. Poturalski has scored two points in each of the last three games.
10: The Wolves pride themselves on being consistent. Case in point: Not only have the Wolves fired at least 10 shots in 11 out of 12 periods this season (the lone holdout being the third period Wednesday night at Grand Rapids), they’ve also scored goals in 10 out of 12 periods. Chicago has been particularly consistent in its two meetings with Milwaukee — posting at least one goal and at least 10 shots in all six periods of their games on Oct. 22-23.
26: Last year, the Wolves ranked third among the AHL’s 28 teams in penalty minutes with an average of 16.03 PIMS per game. But this year, the Wolves have been the most gentlemanly team in the AHL. Chicago served just 26 penalty minutes in its first four games as the squad has been assessed 13 minors and no majors. The 6.5 penalty minutes per game lags way behind league-leading Toronto, which averages 34.2 penalty minutes per tilt.
26.1: The Wolves share fifth place among the AHL’s 31 teams in power-play percentage as they have converted 26.1 percent of their 23 man-advantage opportunities this season. Chicago’s six power-play goals have been supplied by C.J. Smith (2), Jack Drury (2), Andrew Poturalski and defenseman Eric Gelinas. Poturalski, meanwhile, has earned assists on four of the five power-play goals that he didn’t put in the net.
411: Since the Wolves organization played its first game on Oct. 1, 1994, a total of 705 players have suited up for Chicago. Twenty-year-old Russia native Artyom Serikov was the latest to make his debut Saturday against Milwaukee. When goaltender Connor Ingram, who played for the Wolves last year, made his victorious NHL debut with the Nashville Predators Sunday, he became the 411th current or former Wolves player to compete in the greatest league in the world. Put another way, 58.3 percent of all Wolves have played in the NHL.
NEXT FIVE GAMES
|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|
|Friday, Nov. 12||at Rockford||7 p.m.||Rockford MetroCentre||AHLTV|
|Saturday, Nov. 13||vs. Toronto||7 p.m.||Allstate Arena||My50|
All games are streamed on AHLTV.