CHICAGO WOLVES (13-4-1-1)
AT IOWA WILD (9-7-1-0)
The LYON SWEEPS TONIGHT?
Thanks to Thursday’s 2-0 win at Allstate Arena and Saturday’s 2-1 win at Wells Fargo, the Chicago Wolves have a chance to sweep their three-game series with the Iowa Wild today. The Wolves will entrust 28-year-old goaltender Alex Lyon — the Yale alum who earned the shutout Thursday — with today’s opportunity.
Lyon enters the rink with a 5-1-1 record and a 1.68 goals-against average that ranks No. 2 in the AHL. As miniscule as that number is, it doesn’t reflect how well the Baudette, Minnesota, native has been playing.
Lyon was in net for Chicago’s opener against Rockford on Oct. 16 — a game in which the Wolves gave up numerous odd-man rushes as they turned a 2-0 lead into a 5-3 defeat. Since that time, Lyon has surrendered just 8 goals in 370 minutes and 19 seconds. That has been good for a 1.30 goals-against average and a .944 save percentage.
He also enjoyed a week with the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes. In his only chance to play, Lyon rejected 27 of 29 shots to backstop the Canes to a 3-2 win over the St. Louis Blues on Nov. 13. That improved his NHL resume to 7-7-2 with a 3.14 GAA since making his debut on Jan. 31, 2018.
“As you get older, you get better,” said Lyon, who turns 29 Thursday. “Not every game’s perfect, but I’m mentally able to overcome little things better than I did a couple years ago. So I’m encouraged by that. I feel like I’m growing in that way.”
Lyon mentioned after Thursday night’s shutout that he knew in advance he would play well — and he referenced a Russell Crowe movie from 2001 to explain how he reaches that understanding.
“If you’ve ever seen ‘A Beautiful Mind’ when he’s got strings and pictures in his little hut?” Lyon said. “That’s basically what it takes to get to that perfect feeling as a goalie. I think that every goalie can relate to that. So it’s complicated.”
fIGHT, THEN TAKE FLIGHT
When Wolves defenseman Joey Keane and Iowa forward Mason Shaw engaged in a brief scrap in Saturday night’s second period, it marked just the fifth fight for Chicago this year. The score was 1-1 at that point, but it should have been a sign to everyone that the Wolves would win.
Why? Because the Wolves have won all five games in which they have fought. Before those fights, the combined score of those five games was 8-5 in favor of their opponents. But after those fights, the Wolves have outscored their opponents 13-1. Chicago rallied from a 2-1 deficit Nov. 27 after a Stefan Noesen fight, from a 3-0 deficit Nov. 26 after a Jack Drury fight and from a 2-0 deficit Nov. 7 after a Kyle Marino bout.
we are the wolves
When the Wolves posted a five-game winning streak Oct. 22-31, it was noted that this marked the ninth consecutive season the franchise pulled off at least one five-game winning streak.
Now that the Wolves are riding a second five-game winning streak, it appears to be a good harbinger for the team capturing another Central Division crown.
Each of the Wolves’ four division champs over the last five years registered at least two five-game winning streaks. The 2020-21 team had runs of 7 and 6, the 2018-19 group had two six-game streaks, the 2017-18 squad notched two six-game streaks and one five, and the 2016-17 crew enjoyed an eight-game streak and a six-game run.
LAST TWO GAMES
- After Iowa scored during a 5-on-3 power play in the first period, the Wolves buckled down and scored in the second and third to extend their winning streak to five games.
- Centers Maxim Letunov and Jack Drury scored as Dominik Bokk set up Letunov’s tying blast and captain Andrew Poturalski teed up Drury’s game-winner.
- Goaltender Eetu Makiniemi posted 23 saves to earn his third straight win.
- The Wolves posted as many goals as Iowa had shots (1) in the first period and the home team proceeded to kill all 5 power plays it faced to earn its first shutout on home ice this season.
- Defenseman Jesper Sellgren scored his first regular-season goal in North America 1:57 into the night while forward Sam Miletic added a big insurance goal early in the third.
- Goaltender Alex Lyon stopped 30 shots to earn his first shutout in a Wolves uniform.
By the numbers
1.93: Goaltenders Alex Lyon and Eetu Makiniemi, who have been taking turns in net virtually all season, have combined to play all but one of the Wolves’ games this year. In those games, they have combined to allow just 1.93 goals per 60 minutes. Lyon (5-1-1), who registered his seventh career AHL shutout Thursday vs. Iowa, ranks second among AHL goalies with his 1.68 goals-against average. Makiniemi (7-2-1), who earned Saturday’s win, jumped from seventh to fourth with his 2.09 GAA. The Wolves and Utica Comets (Akira Schmid and Nico Daws) boast four of the top five AHL goaltenders when measuring by GAA.
2: You can count on two fingers the number of times the Wolves have been outshot during their first 19 games this season. The first game was way back on Oct. 22 when the Wolves allowed a season-high 43 shots in a 3-2 win at Milwaukee. The second was Nov. 6 when Manitoba limited the Wolves to a season-low 23 attempts during a 5-1 Moose win at Allstate Arena. Chicago enters today’s action riding a 12-game streak of outshooting its opponent — the second-longest streak in franchise history. John Anderson’s 1998-99 squad owns the record as it won the shots battle in 14 consecutive games from Jan. 2 to Jan. 30 and posted an 8-4-0-2 record during that run. The current Wolves own a 430-302 shot margin (35.8-25.2 per game) during this spree.
7: Seven players have taken the ice for all all 19 games to date — and all are forwards: Jack Drury, Maxim Letunov, Stelio Mattheos, Stefan Noesen, captain Andrew Poturalski, Spencer Smallman and C.J. Smith. This seven-man crew has combined for 32 of the Wolves’ 57 non-shootout goals — including both tallies Saturday night — and 52 of their 98 assists. Smith, Poturalski and Noesen have served as the team’s top line for all but two games.
34.65: The Chicago Wolves’ single-season record for shots per game was set by the 1998-99 squad with 34.65 per outing. This output led the 16-team International Hockey League that season — and marks the only time in the Wolves’ first 27 years that they led their league in shots per game. This year’s squad has a chance to break the team record AND become the second in franchise annals to lead the league. The Wolves enter today’s game averaging 34.68 shots per game, which shares second in the 31-team AHL with Manitoba. Chicago has narrowed the gap with league-leading Iowa, which has dropped from 36.07 to 35.00 over the last two games against the Wolves.
250: Captain Andrew Poturalski produced his 250th AHL point Saturday night when he deftly set up Jack Drury’s game-winning goal 47 seconds into the third period. Poturalski has racked up 86 goals and 164 assists in 318 games for the Charlotte Checkers, San Diego Gulls and Wolves. Not only did Poturalski reach that milestone, he pulled into a tie with Rochester right wing Jack Quinn for the AHL’s 2021-22 scoring lead with 24 points (9G, 15A) in 19 games. The 27-year-old is bidding to become the AHL’s first player to win back-to-back scoring titles since Philadelphia’s Peter White in 1996-97 and 1997-98.
415: Since the Wolves organization played its first game on Oct. 1, 1994, a total of 709 players have suited up for Chicago. Defenseman Daniel Brickley was the latest to make his debut when he played Thursday against Iowa. When forward Ben Jones made his debut with the Vegas Golden Knights on Nov. 20, he became the 415th Wolves alum to compete in the greatest league in the world. Put another way, 58.5 percent of all Wolves have played in the NHL.
NEXT FIVE GAMES
|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|
|Sunday, Dec. 12||at Texas||5 p.m.||H-E-B Center||AHLTV|
|Thursday, Dec. 16||vs. Manitoba||11 a.m.||Allstate Arena||AHLTV|
|Friday, Dec. 17||at Milwaukee||7 p.m.||Panther Arena||AHLTV|
All games are streamed on AHLTV.