Welcome to Wolves Insider: the weekly report that gives you the latest Chicago Wolves news as the organization bids for its fifth league championship.
WHAT THE WOLVES HAVE LEARNED SO FAR
When the Chicago Wolves play three games in three days immediately after Thanksgiving — including home games at Rockford on Saturday night and Grand Rapids on Sunday afternoon — they’ll be more than 20 percent of the way through the 2021-22 regular season. What has Wolves head coach Ryan Warsofsky learned about his bunch so far?
“I think we’re learning how we need to play for being more consistent — not just as a team, but as individuals,” Warsofsky said. “Sometimes we get a guy’s best game and he’s going and you can put him out there and you can trust him. Sometimes a guy’s (playing his) B or C game, it’s hard to put him on the ice and trust him. So we’re learning as individuals how to be more consistent, how to mentally prepare. You’re not going to feel 100 percent, you’re not going to feel your best for 76 games. There’s a human element in this that’s really difficult, so your B game needs to impact the hockey game someway.”
The Wolves’ 8-4-1-1 record has them just 1 point behind the Iowa Wild for first in the AHL’s Central Division. But examining their overall numbers suggests there should be more success just around the corner. Chicago boasts the league’s second-most goaltender tandem in veteran Alex Lyon, who ranks fourth in the league with a 1.97 goals-against average, and rookie Eetu Makiniemi, who ranks 11th at 2.25.
Offensively, the Wolves boast the AHL’s second-highest shot differential (+116), but their team shooting percentage is an unnaturally low 8.9 percent. Once that rises closer to the norm, their offense (combined with the goaltending) will deliver a lot more wins than losses.
BLACK FRIDAY IS HERE
Ready to find perfect holiday gifts? The Wolves’ Black Friday deals are already in effect! Get 15 percent off virtually everything right now at ChicagoWolvesStore.com. Bonus tip: There just might be a great opportunity on tickets later this week. Stay tuned to Wolves social media for details.
BLOOD IS IN SHORT SUPPLY. BE THE ANSWER.
Make plans now to join the Wolves and Vitalant for the blood drive on Saturday, Dec. 18, at Allstate Arena’s Skyline Room in Rosemont. The doors will be open to walk-ins from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., but it’s much easier to set up an appointment to donate.
To receive all of these goodies — two ticket vouchers to a Wolves game of your choice, a limited-edition Vitalant/Chicago Wolves T-shirt, a Wolves hat and a chance to win an autographed Wolves jersey — make an appointment by visiting Vitalant.org/Wolves (search for Group Code ORD0RS20) or calling 877-258-4825.
Donating blood is safe and easy — and serves a vital need during the holidays. All blood types are in short supply.
NOT TOO LATE TO VOLUNTEER TO RING
In the wake of Saturday’s successful Red Kettle Game, it’s important to remember the Salvation Army’s services are critical this time of year. One of the ways the Salvation Army raises money to help others is through the red kettles placed strategically throughout the Chicago area. If you’d like to volunteer to ring the bell at a red kettle this season, visit RegisterToRing.com.
The Wolves’ third-line center carries a four-game point streak into Wednesday’s morning game at Grand Rapids. The 25-year-old from Moscow scored a goal Friday night at Rockford, assisted on Sam Miletic’s goal Saturday night against Toronto and gave the Wolves a 1-0 lead on Sunday afternoon with his third goal of the season.
After backstopping the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes to a victory Nov. 13, the veteran goaltender returned to the Wolves and delivered two standout performances. He allowed just one goal in Wednesday’s overtime win at Grand Rapids, then gave up just two Saturday against Rockford to finish the week with a 1.44 goals-against average and .942 save percentage.
For the fourth time in his illustrious career, the Wolves captain scored a game-winning overtime goal as he delivered the difference-maker in Wednesday’s 2-1 win at Grand Rapids. The 27-year-old Poturalski owns 21 game-winning goals for his career and ranks fourth on this season’s AHL points chart with 7 goals and 10 assists in 14 games.
SATURDAY, NOV. 20: ROCKFORD 3, (at) CHICAGO 2 (SO)
- The Wolves seized a 2-0 lead in the opening nine minutes, but the IceHogs caught up in the third period to set up Dylan McLaughlin’s game-winner in the fourth round of the shootout.
- Forwards Stefan Noesen and David Gust gave the Wolves the lead while Andrew Poturalski, C.J. Smith and Max Lajoie earned the assists.
- Goaltender Alex Lyon stopped 23 of 25 shots in regulation and overtime.
FRIDAY, NOV. 19: (at) ROCKFORD 6, CHICAGO 3
- The Wolves jumped to a 2-0 lead in the opening eight minutes, but Rockford caught up after 20 minutes and scored the game’s final three goals in the third period.
- Forward Dominik Bokk and defenseman Josh Jacobs scored early and forward David Gust pulled the Wolves into a 3-3 tie late in the second period.
- Goaltender Eetu Makiniemi stopped 21 of 25 shots.
WEDNESDAY, NOV. 17: CHICAGO 2, (at) GRAND RAPIDS 1
- Thirty-one seconds into overtime, captain Andrew Poturalski slalomed through three defenders and deked the goaltender to score the game-winner at Van Andel Arena.
- Forward Jamieson Rees scored his first of the season to give the Wolves a 1-0 lead in the second. Jack Drury assisted on his goal and Stefan Noesen assisted on Poturalski’s winner.
- Goaltender Alex Lyon stopped 26 shots to earn the win.
NEXT FIVE GAMES
|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|
|Thursday, Dec. 2||vs. Iowa||7 p.m.||Allstate Arena||AHLTV|
|Saturday, Dec. 4||at Iowa||6 p.m.||Wells Fargo Arena||AHLTV|
All games are streamed on AHLTV.