CHICAGO WOLVES (7-3-1-0)
AT GRAND RAPIDS GRIFFINS (5-5-0-1)
There are just two occasions on this year’s schedule where the Chicago Wolves are asked to play six games in nine days. The second such stretch comes Jan. 7-15, but head coach Ryan Warsofsky’s bunch are smack-dab in the middle of the first one.
The Wolves find themselves at 1-1-1-0 so far after playing three games in 47 hours last weekend. After getting much-needed rest Monday, a good workout Tuesday and a decent amount of video work that allowed the team to get better without having to be overtaxed physically, the Wolves hit the road for today’s School-Day Game against Grand Rapids.
Frankly, the Wolves have appeared more comfortable on the road this season as they join the Utica Comets and the Stockton Heat as the only perfect teams away from home. The Wolves’ 5-0-0 mark has been built on early scoring and stout goaltending.
In their five road games, the Wolves have delivered a 20-8 goals advantage and trailed for a grand total of 15 minutes and 5 seconds — all of that coming during the second and third period Oct. 27 at Milwaukee. And of those eight goals allowed by the Wolves, three occurred at a 6-on-4 disadvantage and three others happened during a normal penalty kill (5-on-4).
In other words, goaltenders Eetu Makiniemi and Alex Lyon have been exceedingly tough to solve at even strength on the road. Makiniemi, the 22-year-old rookie from Finland, owns a 4-0-0 record, a 1.51 goals-against average and a .951 saves percentage in his four road wins. Lyon rejected 22 of 24 shots in his road victory.
COMING BACK FROM CAROLINA
Goaltender Alex Lyon and forward Josh Leivo returned from Carolina early this week after brief but profitable stints with the Hurricanes.
Lyon, who was recalled after Carolina’s Antti Raanta suffered a concussion, stepped into the net Saturday night against the St. Louis Blues and stopped 27 of 29 shots as the Canes earned a 3-2 win. For the 28-year-old Yale alum, it marked his seventh career NHL victory in his first appearance for any team other than the Philadelphia Flyers.
The 28-year-old Leivo played on back-to-back nights for Carolina — Nov. 12 and 13 — as the Canes split their games with Philadelphia and St. Louis. Leivo, who made his NHL debut when he was just 20, has posted 37 goals and 37 assists in 209 NHL appearances for Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary and Carolina.
Lyon and Leivo are two of the 11 players on today’s roster who boast NHL experience. They join forwards Maxim Letunov, Stefan Noesen, Andrew Poturalski and C.J. Smith and defensemen Jalen Chatfield, Eric Gelinas, Josh Jacobs, Joey Keane and Max Lajoie.
we are the wolves
The Wolves haven’t played a School-Day Game since Feb. 20, 2020, when Grand Rapids visited Chicago and earned a 3-2 victory in front of 14,664 fans at Allstate Arena.
However, the Wolves are accustomed to delivering great performance in their morning games on the road. In their last road School-Day Game on Nov. 7, 2019, Garret Sparks stopped 35 shots to earn a 3-0 shutout at Iowa.
On Nov. 7, 2018, at Milwaukee, Daniel Carr became the fifth player in Wolves history to score 4 goals while Brooks Macek handed out 5 assists in a 5-3 victory.
LAST TWO GAMES
- With 1.3 seconds remaining in overtime, Toronto rookie center Semyon Der-Arguchintsev scored to give the visitors the extra point at Allstate Arena.
- Center Maxim Letunov extended his point streak to four games with a first-period goal that was assisted by forward Jamieson Rees and defenseman Joey Keane.
- Goaltender Eetu Makiniemi rejected 25 of 27 shots.
- In the Marlies’ first trip to Chicago in seven seasons, the visitors scored two goals in the opening five minutes and kept going despite the Wolves owning a 39-25 shot advantage.
- Forward Sam Miletic recorded his first goal with the Wolves as linemates Spencer Smallman and Maxim Letunov set up his score.
- Goaltender Beck Warm stopped 20 shots in his first AHL game this season.
By the numbers
3: The last time the Wolves showed up at Van Andel Arena — a whole 17 days ago — center Andrew Poturalski and left wing C.J. Smith accomplished something that has happened just three times in the team’s 28-season history. When Poturalski (3G, 2A) and Smith (1G, 4A) each put up five points in the 6-3 win on Halloween at Grand Rapids, it marked just the third time in the Wolves’ 2,335 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. Poturalski and Smith became the 10th and 11th players in Wolves annals to score 5 points in a game.
4: Ontario’s Sean Durzi and Iowa’s Joe Hicketts (formerly of Grand Rapids) are the only AHL defensemen who owns more goals than the Wolves’ 25-year-old Jalen Chatfield, who has delivered four goals in 11 games this season. It’s a considerably higher scoring rate than he had shown prior to this year — he joined the Wolves with two goals in 142 career AHL appearances — yet he has found a place in Wolves annals alongside 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 became the third Wolves d-man since 2004-05 to post a three-game goal streak Oct. 31 to Nov. 7.
8: Just five weeks into the NHL season, eight former Chicago Wolves have made their National Hockey League debuts. Not only that, but all eight have made an impact. Goaltenders Zach Fucale (Washington) and Connor Ingram (Nashville) won their first starts — and Fucale became the first in Capitals history to put up a shutout in his debut. Forwards Paul Cotter, Jake Leschyshyn and Jonas Rondbjerg made their debuts with Vegas and each has scored a goal while appearing in a combined 25 games for the injury-plagued Golden Knights. Nashville’s 20-year-old Phil Tomasino made the Opening Night roster and owns 3 goals and 2 assists while Tommy Novak has posted 5 assists. Last but not least, 19-year-old Seth Jarvis racked up the GWG for Carolina Tuesday night at Vegas. Jarvis owns two goals in seven games — and had two more goals erased thanks to replays.
35: Four days before the season began, the Wolves’ social media team asked each player and coach to declare who’s the GOAT in sports. While most answered along the lines of “Tom Brady” or “Tiger Woods,” rookie goaltender Eetu Makiniemi stood out for declaring Tuukka Rask as the greatest of all time. While that might be a bit of a stretch, the 22-year-old Finland native has been putting up numbers like his Stanley Cup-champion countryman. Makiniemi enters today’s game ranked eighth among all AHL netminders in goals-against average (1.99). The Carolina Hurricanes’ fourth-round pick in the 2017 NHL Draft is tied for fourth in wins (5) and stands 10th in save percentage (.929).
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 goaltender Zach Fucale became the first goalie in Washington Capitals history to earn a shutout in his debut Thursday night, he became the 414th Wolves alum 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
|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 Grand Rapids||6 p.m.||Van Andel Arena||AHLTV|
|Saturday, Nov. 27||vs. Rockford||7 p.m.||Allstate Arena||My50|
|Sunday, Nov. 28||vs. Grand Rapids||3 p.m.||Allstate Arena||My50|
All games are streamed on AHLTV.