CHICAGO WOLVES (6-2-0-0)
AT ROCKFORD ICEHOGS (3-5-1-0)
LONG TIME SINCE THE OPENER
It has been only 27 days since the Chicago Wolves faced the Rockford IceHogs in their 2021-22 season opener, but both teams are in markedly different places than the Oct. 16 night when the IceHogs rallied for a 5-3 victory at Allstate Arena.
The Central Division-leading Wolves have gone 6-1-0-0 since that night as head coach Ryan Warsofsky’s crew has outscored its foes 27-15 over that stretch. Considering one of those Goals Against was an empty-netter, Chicago’s stout defense has been surrendering just two goals per game.
In addition, the Wolves have established one of the best lines in the AHL as captain Andrew Poturalski (the reigning AHL Player of the Month) serves as the center for left wing C.J. Smith and right wing Stefan Noesen. They have teamed up for 11 goals and 22 assists in the first eight games to pace an offense that ranks fourth in the 31-team AHL with 3.75 goals per game.
On the other side of this intrastate rivalry, the IceHogs have posted a 2-4-1-0 record since Oct. 16 — in part due to consistent shuffling with their NHL affiliate, the Chicago Blackhawks. Not only have seven players moved between the two teams, the Blackhawks tabbed IceHogs head coach Derek King to take over at the United Center on Nov. 6 after firing head coach Jeremy Colliton and two of his assistants.
Interim Rockford head coach Anders Sorensen is a familiar face on the local hockey scene. He and Wolves assistant coach Bob Nardella coached multiple Chicago Mission teams together — including the standout 2014-15 16U squad that featured current Wolves rookie center Jack Drury.
CHATFIELD ENTERS THE CHAT
Wolves defenseman Jalen Chatfield has scored a goal in each of the last three games. His give-and-go with C.J. Smith gave the Wolves a 3-2 lead in their 6-3 win at Grand Rapids on Oct. 31, he scored Chicago’s lone goal on Nov. 6 and he delivered the game-winner in Sunday’s 4-2 victory over Milwaukee.
This three-game goal streak puts him on a short list of prolific Wolves blueliners. He became just the third defenseman since 2004-05 to produce such a run during the regular season. Vince Dunn, now with the Seattle Kraken, recorded four goals during his three-game streak Feb. 22-26, 2017. If Chatfield scores today, then he’ll match Nic Hague’s streak. Hague, now part of the Vegas Golden Knights’ top defensive pairing, delivered five goals in a four-game stretch Dec. 5-15, 2018.
The gold standard for a goal streak by a Wolves defenseman was set during the 2008 Calder Cup Playoffs when Joel Kwiatkowski notched a goal in SEVEN consecutive games. He started his spree during Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals against Toronto and continued through Game 3 of the Calder Cup Finals against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.
we are the wolves
Ring in 2022 with the Wolves! For the first time in the franchise’s 28-season history, the team will host a home game on New Year’s Day.
The Chicago New Year’s Classic presented by Planet Fitness features a 7 p.m. visit from, yes, the Rockford IceHogs. There is potential for the all-time season series with the IceHogs to be deadlocked at 82 wins apiece by the time Jan. 1 arrives.
There are several unique promotions planned for the night, which makes it the perfect way to celebrate the New Year with friends and family in a different way than hockey fans have done before.
LAST TWO GAMES
- After the Admirals scored two early power-play goals, the Wolves pulled even by the end of the first period and earned their fourth straight win over Milwaukee with two goals in the third.
- Defenseman Jalen Chatfield scored for the third straight game while defensemen Max Lajoie and Artyom Serikov notched their first of the year and forward David Gust added his third.
- Goaltender Eetu Makiniemi posted 25 saves.
- The Moose scored three unanswered goals in the first period and the Wolves couldn’t catch up as their five-game winning streak came to a close at Allstate Arena.
- Defenseman Jalen Chatfield scored the Wolves’ lone goal to pull the hosts within 3-1 just 1:07 into the second. Forwards Josh Leivo and David Gust earned the assists.
- Goaltender Eetu Makiniemi stopped 25 of 29 shots.
By the numbers
1: The Wolves have committed just one major penalty this season, which is the fewest in the AHL. Chicago didn’t commit any in its first seven games, but forward Kyle Marino picked a crucial time to break that streak during Sunday’s 4-2 win over Milwaukee. The Wolves surrendered two power-play goals in the opening 6:05 to fall behind 2-0, but Marino and the Admirals’ Mathieu Olivier went toe-to-toe prior to the next faceoff. Because they fought before the faceoff, both spent the rest of the day in the dressing room — but Marino’s momentum-shifting tussle was recognized by his teammates when he received the “Golden Helmet” that gets presented to the team’s MVP during the brief postgame talk after each win.
3: When center Andrew Poturalski (3G, 2A) and left wing C.J. Smith (1G, 4A) each put up five points in a 6-3 win on Oct. 31 at Grand Rapids, it marked just the third time in the Wolves’ 2,332 games that at least two Wolves scored five points in the same game. Rob Brown (2G, 6A), Dan Currie (4G, 1A) and Steve Maltais (2G, 3A) achieved the feat during a 10-3 win over the Kansas City Blades on March 24, 1996, then Jason Krog (3G, 4A) and Brett Sterling (2G, 3A) made it happen Nov. 4, 2006, in a 10-5 win at Peoria.
4: Fifth-year pro Jalen Chatfield owns four goals in eight games this year. Not only do those four goals lead all AHL blueliners, he already has doubled his previous career-high for goals. Chatfield posted two tallies in 60 games during the 2017-18 season for the Utica (AHL) Comets. Prior to joining the Wolves, he had gone 109 games (91 in the AHL and 18 in the NHL) without scoring a goal.
5: When Jamieson Rees was loaned to the Wolves Thursday, it marked just the fifth roster move during the first month of the year as their NHL partner, the Carolina Hurricanes, has broken out to a 10-1-0 start. Over the weekend, Opening Night goaltender Alex Lyon was recalled by the Hurricanes while goaltender Beck Warm was reassigned from Norfolk (ECHL) to the Wolves. Warm, who was named the Central Division’s All-Star goaltender last season, has produced a 4-1-0 record with a 2.48 goals-against average and a .921 save percentage in five appearances for Norfolk. On Tuesday, veteran forward Josh Leivo was recalled by the Hurricanes, which inspired the Wolves to recall center Stephen Harper from Fort Wayne (ECHL). Harper, who posted three goals and six assists in five games for the Komets, would make his AHL debut if he plays tonight.
11: When Andrew Poturalski and C.J. Smith unleashed their five-point efforts on Halloween at Grand Rapids, they became the 10th and 11th Wolves to produce a five-point game in the franchise’s 28-season history. Steve Maltais and Rob Brown posted five such games while Jason Krog notched four. Dan Currie and Cory Larose each achieved the feat twice while Lonny Bohonos, Brooks Macek, Spencer Machacek and Brett Sterling each did it once.
30: With goaltender Alex Lyon expected to head to the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes, goaltender Beck Warm should be reassigned from Norfolk (ECHL) to the Wolves and put on his No. 30 jersey for the first time during this regular season. It’s a sign of Chicago’s strength in goal that the 22-year-old Warm, who was named the Central Division;s All-Star goaltender last season, has spent the year to date with the Admirals. Warm has produced a 4-1-0 record with a 2.48 goals-against average and a .921 save percentage in five appearances for Norfolk. Last year for the Wolves, the Whistler, British Columbia, native notched an 8-4-1 record with a 2.74 GAA, a .914 save percentage and 2 shutouts.
414: Since the Wolves organization played its first game on Oct. 1, 1994, a total of 706 players have suited up for Chicago. Forward Kyle Marino was the latest to make his debut when he played Oct. 31 at Grand Rapids. When forward Paul Cotter made his debut with the Vegas Golden Knights Tuesday night and goaltender Zach Fucale made his debut with the Washington Capitals Thursday night (and posted a shutout against Detroit), they became the 413th and 414th Wolves to compete in the greatest league in the world. Put another way, 58.6 percent of all Wolves have played in the NHL.
NEXT FIVE GAMES
|Saturday, Nov. 13||vs. Toronto||7 p.m.||Allstate Arena||My50|
|Sunday, Nov. 14||vs. Toronto||3 p.m.||Allstate Arena||My50|
|Wednesday, Nov. 17||at Grand Rapids||10 a.m.||Van Andel Arena||AHLTV|
|Friday, Nov. 19||at Rockford||7 p.m.||MetroCentre||AHLTV|
|Saturday, Nov. 19||vs. Rockford||7 p.m.||Allstate Arena||My50|
All games are streamed on AHLTV.