Welcome to Wolves Insider: the weekly report that gives you the latest Chicago Wolves news as the organization bids for its fifth league championship.
FIRST-PLACE SHOWDOWN WEEK STARTS THURSDAY
With three wins in three days over Thanksgiving weekend, the Chicago Wolves reasserted themselves as the AHL Central Division leaders. The Wolves’ 11-4-1-1 record gives them a .706 points percentage that’s a few steps ahead of the Manitoba Moose (.639) and Iowa Wild (.633).
However, the Wolves and the Wild have yet to meet this season — a situation they’ll rectify with three games in four days starting with Thursday’s 7 p.m. clash at Allstate Arena on Craft Beer Night.
To be sure, the Wolves and Wild will enter the rink with vivid memories of last year’s eight-game series that had two distinct themes: The Wolves dominating the win column (taking 6 of 8) and both teams making endless trips to the penalty box. Chicago and Iowa combined for 13 fights and three game misconducts as the Wild averaged 33.3 penalty minutes per game and the Wolves averaged 32.8.
To put that into perspective, the Wolves averaged just 10.7 penalty minutes last year in games not involving Iowa last year — and they’re averaging 10.5 PIMS this year. Iowa averaged 14.5 in non-Wolves affairs last year and sits at 16.0 per game this season.
“I think it’s going to be a good test,” said Wolves head coach Ryan Warsofsky. “We got a rivalry brewing last season even though it was a COVID year. We had two teams that didn’t like each other. They’re playing really well and they’re a well-coached team, so we’ve got to be prepared.”
CYBER MONDAY DEALS
The Chicago Wolves’ Black Friday deals were great, but the Cyber Monday specials might be even better! Today only, get 20 percent off virtually all Wolves gear at ChicagoWolvesStore.com. Meanwhile, you have until 11:59 p.m. Tuesday to grab incredible deals on center-ice tickets when you click here.
Who’s ready for craft beer night?
The Chicago Wolves are hosting eight Craft Beer Nights this season — and the first one (and the only one in December) happens Thursday night against the Iowa Wild. Want a great seat, the chance to enjoy three craft beers and receive a Craft Beer Night T-shirt to boot? Then visit here now to reserve your Craft Beer Night Package.
GIVE THE GIFT OF LIFE: DONATE BLOOD DEC. 18
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.
The Wolves captain tied a franchise record for most points in one period when he racked up one goal and three assists during Chicago’s huge third-period rally Friday night at Grand Rapids. He added an assist in Saturday’s win over Rockford and the opening goal in Sunday’s win to push his season point total to 23 (9G, 14A), which ranks just 1 point behind the AHL leader.
The 22-year-old rookie goaltender from Finland enjoyed another banner week as he earned two wins over the Grand Rapids Griffins. Makiniemi produced a 2.00 goals-against average and .922 save percentage in those wins to improve to a 7-2-1 record with a 2.20 GAA and .919 save percentage. He ranks Top 10 among AHL goalies in all three categories.
Smith turns 27 Wednesday and he’ll be able to celebrate happily after a big weekend. Smith scored the game-winning goal Friday night, the game-tying goal late in the third period Saturday and added two assists Sunday afternoon. Smith boosted his season totals to six goals and 13 assists as he ranks fifth in the AHL in points and assists.
- The Wolves controlled play throughout as they built a 3-0 lead in the opening 40 minutes and owned a 44-19 shot advantage for the game to stay in first place in the Central Division.
- Forward Stefan Noesen scored one goal and assisted on the other two, which were delivered by forwards Josh Leivo and Andrew Poturalski.
- Goaltender Eetu Makiniemi earned 18 saves, including multiple highlight-reel stops.
- Rockford scored two goals in the second period to take the lead, but the Wolves tied it with 5:19 remaining and Josh Leivo scored in the third round of the shootout to win it.
- Forwards Maxim Letunov and C.J. Smith scored in regulation while Smith and captain Andrew Poturalski earned the primary assists.
- Goaltender Alex Lyon stopped 17 shots in regulation and overtime and all three shootout tries.
- Trailing 3-0 entering the third period, the Wolves scored two goals in the first three minutes and three goals in the last two minutes to stun the Griffins at Van Andel Arena.
- Forwards Josh Leivo, Maxim Letunov, Spencer Smallman, C.J. Smith and Andrew Poturalski scored in the final period while Poturalski added three assists.
- Goaltender Eetu Makiniemi posted 29 saves to earn the win.
NEXT FIVE GAMES
|Thursday, Dec. 2||vs. Iowa||7 p.m.||Allstate Arena||AHLTV|
|Saturday, Dec. 4||at Iowa||6 p.m.||Wells Fargo Arena||AHLTV|
|Sunday, Dec. 5||at Iowa||3 p.m.||Wells Fargo Arena||AHLTV|
|Thursday, Dec. 9||at Texas||7 p.m.||H-E-B Center||AHLTV|
|Saturday, Dec. 11||at Texas||7 p.m.||H-E-B Center||AHLTV|
All games are streamed on AHLTV.