TORONTO MARLIES (5-4-0-0)
AT CHICAGO WOLVES (7-2-0-0)
SCRATCHING SEVEN-YEAR ITCHES
For the first time in seven seasons — since April 19, 2015, to be exact — the Chicago Wolves and the Toronto Marlies get a chance to meet on the ice as the Wolves hit the middle portion of their three-games-in-three-days stretch.
What happened to this matchup that used to be a staple on both teams’ schedules? Well, it became a casualty of the American Hockey League’s westward expansion.
Starting in 2005, when the St. John’s Maple Leafs moved to Toronto to become the Marlies, Toronto and Chicago were members of the Western Conference for 10 straight seasons. But when five Eastern Conference teams moved to California in the summer of 2015, the AHL shuffled several teams and Marlies moved to the Eastern Conference. That made it less crucial for the Wolves and Marlies to maintain their rivalry, but presumably it can pick up again as they scratch their seven-year itch.
But that’s not the only seven-year itch on the Wolves’ docket this weekend. In Friday night’s 4-1 victory over the Rockford IceHogs, the Wolves allowed just one shot on goal during the first period. That marked the first time in seven years that Chicago’s defense had been so stifling. In the Wolves’ 2014-15 season opener on Oct. 11, 2014, they gave up just one shot in the first period to the Charlotte Checkers on the way to a 2-1 victory at Allstate Arena.
Rookie Wolves goaltender Eetu Makiniemi finished just 3 minutes and 29 seconds away from earning his second shutout in six games this season. Makiniemi’s whitewash was wrecked when Rockford went on the power play, pulled the goalie to gain a 6-on-4 advantage and scored at 16:31 of the third. This wasn’t the first time this season such a thing happened to the 22-year-old Finland native. In his AHL debut on Oct. 22, he blanked Milwaukee for 56:59 before allowing two 6-on-4 goals.
Had Makiniemi held on to his shutout Friday night, he would have joined Pheonix Copley as the only goalies in the Wolves’ 28-year history to produce two shutouts in his first six starts for the team. Copley posted shutouts in his second and third starts of the 2015-16 season.
However, Makiniemi still has a chance to join Copley, Pasi Nurminen and Garret Sparks as the only Wolves goalies to earn shutouts in two of his first seven starts. Sparks pulled off the feat in 2019-20 while Nurminen accomplished it in 2001-02. Coincidentally, Makiniemi earned the Pasi Nurminen Award in 2019-20 to celebrate his status as the best goaltender in Finland’s Mestis League.
The list of Nurminen Award honorees features 2015 winner Kaapo Kahkonen, who has been with the NHL’s Minnesota Wild since winning the AHL Goaltender of the Year award in 2000 at Iowa.
we are the wolves
The first time the Wolves played a team from Toronto, the date was Oct. 25, 2003, and the team was known as the Toronto Roadrunners and affiliated with the Edmonton Oilers.
The Roadrunners’ head coach was Geoff Ward, whose son, Cody, is in his first year as the Wolves’ video coach. One of the more prominent players on that Roadrunners squad was Rocky Thompson, who served as the Wolves’ head coach from 2017 to 2020.
The Roadrunners lasted just one year in Toronto, though, before moving to Edmonton. That paved the way for the St. John’s Maple Leafs to move to Toronto in 2005 and become the Marlies.
The Wolves and the Marlies have not met since April 19, 2015, which doubled as the final day of the regular season. Toronto took a 5-2 win at Allstate Arena that afternoon as goaltender Antoine Bibeau (who spent last year with the Wolves) earned the victory.
LAST TWO GAMES
- The Wolves scored three first-period goals and outshot Rockford 16-1 in the opening 20 minutes to secure the win in Rockford.
- Forwards Andrew Poturalski and Stefan Noesen and defenseman Eric Gelinas scored in the first period while center Maxim Letunov added an empty-net goal late.
- Goaltender Eetu Makiniemi notched 18 saves.
- 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.
By the numbers
3: Defenseman Jalen Chatfield shot just one time during Friday’s 4-1 win at Rockford and didn’t find the back of the net, so his three-game goal streak came to a close. Nonetheless, he deserved to be recognized for becoming just the third Wolves defenseman since 2004-05 to produce a three-game goal streak during the regular season. He joined the company of Vince Dunn, now with the Seattle Kraken, and Nic Hague, now with the Vegas Golden Knights. Dunn posted four goals during a three-game streak Feb. 22-26, 2017, while Hague delivered five goals in a four-game stretch Dec. 5-15, 2018. Chatfield still leads all AHL defensemen in goals this season with four.
5: In each of the last five games, the Wolves have received at least one goal from their defensemen — and there has been a different protaganist each game. The streak started on Oct. 29 in Milwaukee when Cavan Fitzgerald delivered an insurance blast in a 4-2 win. It continued on Halloween in Grand Rapids when Chicago native Joey Keane scored his first goal in a Wolves uniform. On Nov. 6, Jalen Chatfield provided the team’s lone goal in a home loss to Manitoba. But the next afternoon, 20-year-old rookie Artyom Serikov scored his first goal in North America before Max Lajoie and Chatfield followed up to give the Wolves a 3-2 lead. On Friday, Eric Gelinas got back in the scoring column for the first time since notching a goal in the season opener.
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.
26: Wolves forward Jamieson Rees, No. 26 on the home team’s roster, finally got to make his season debut during Friday’s 4-1 win at Rockford. The 20-year-old Rees was a staple in Chicago’s lineup last season — posting eight goals and six assists in 29 games — and earned an extended stay on the NHL Carolina Hurricanes’ preseason roster this fall. Then he suffered a right knee surgery that required surgery on Oct. 12, which enabled Carolina to shift him to the Injured Non-Roster list. Rees’ rehab was expected to last about a month and Friday’s game marked the month anniversary. Rees played left wing on a line with rookie center Jack Drury and veteran right wing David Gust and did not register any statistics.
30: With three games in three days this weekend, Beck Warm (No. 30 on the Wolves roster) figures to start against Toronto this weekend. Warm has yet to play in the AHL this season, though he picked up 14 games of experience last year. The 22-year-old British Columbia native posted an 8-4-1 record, 2.74 goals-against average, .914 save percentage and 2 shutouts and was named as the goaltender on the Central Division’s all-star team.
414: Since the Wolves organization played its first game on Oct. 1, 1994, a total of 707 players have suited up for Chicago. Center Stephen Harper was the latest to make his debut when he played Friday night at Rockford. When forward Paul Cotter made his debut with the Vegas Golden Knights Tuesday night and goaltender Zach Fucale became the first goalie in Washington Capitals history to earn a shutout in his debut Thursday night, 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
|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. 20||vs. Rockford||7 p.m.||Allstate Arena||My50|
|Friday, Nov. 26||at Rockford||7 p.m.||MetroCentre||AHLTV|
All games are streamed on AHLTV.