Welcome to Wolves Insider, presented by Rivers Casino: the weekly report that gives you the latest Chicago Wolves news as the organization bids for its fifth league championship.
BEST START IN FRANCHISE HISTORY
We get it. The Wolves have been on the road for the last two weeks, which makes it hard to stay focused on the hottest team in hockey. So here’s the chance to take two minutes and get caught up on all of the magnificent things the Chicago Wolves have accomplished in the first eight weeks of the American Hockey League season.
1) BEST START IN FRANCHISE HISTORY: Head coach Ryan Warsofsky’s Wolves own a 17-4-1-1 record. That .783 points percentage is the best in team history through 23 games, which is saying something because the Wolves have four league championships and three other trips to the finals to show for their first 27 seasons.
2) NINE-GAME WINNING STREAK: For the first time since 2005-06, the Wolves are riding a nine-game winning streak. The team’s longest streak, by the way, is 12 games set by the 1999-2000 team that won the Turner Cup.
3) PILING UP THE POINTS: Captain Andrew Poturalski has a head start on being the first AHL player in 24 years to win back-to-back scoring titles. He owns 34 points (12G, 22A) in 23 games. His linemates aren’t far behind as C.J. Smith ranks second with 27 points (10G, 17A) and Stefan Noesen (10G, 14A) shares fourth.
4) STOPPING EVERYTHING: Veteran goaltender Alex Lyon ranks second with his 1.63 goals-against average. Rookie Eetu Makiniemi, who rotates games with Lyon, ranks second in wins (10) and eighth in GAA (2.23).
5) OUTSHOOTING EVERYONE: The Wolves have won the shots battle in each of their last 16 games — breaking the franchise record of 14 set by the 1998-99 team. Chicago leads the AHL with 34.83 shots per game and ranks second in fewest shots allowed (25.78).
HUGE HOME GAME SATURDAY
There are endless reasons to get to Allstate Arena for Saturday’s 7 p.m. game against the Milwaukee Admirals. Spider-Man, Wonder Woman and Captain Marvel will be there to meet all the kids on Superhero Night.
The first 5,000 fans to enter the arena receive a Wolves 2022 Wall Calendar, courtesy of Rose Pest Solutions. All-Star members of the Skates Mates Kids Club get to go on the ice after the game to shoot on Skates. Last but not least, it’s Adopt-A-Dog Night, presented by Premier Veterinary Group. Visit the South Lobby and give a wonderful dog a forever home!
For tickets to Saturday’s game, click here.
SIGN UP FOR SATURDAY’S BLOOD DRIVE!
There’s still time to save lives by joining the Chicago Wolves and Vitalant for Saturday’s blood drive at Allstate Arena’s Skyline Room.
The drive goes 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. and everyone who donates will receive two ticket vouchers, a limited-edition Wolves/Vitalant T-shirt, a Wolves hat and a chance to win an autographed jersey. To sign up, visit Vitalant.org/Wolves and use code ORD0RS20.
LAJOIE BACK IN THE FOLD
The Carolina Hurricanes announced Monday afternoon that defenseman Max Lajoie has been reassigned on loan to the Wolves. Lajoie spent two weeks with the Hurricanes and appeared in five games — posting a +2 plus/minus rating and blocking five shots.
Lajoie, who played in all 17 Wolves games before going to the NHL, will be ready to go with the Central Division-leading Wolves host the second-place Manitoba Moose at 11 a.m. Thursday.
The AHL season is just eight weeks old, but the Wolves captain earned his second Player of the Week award Monday. Poturalski piled up 10 points (3G, 7A) during the three-game sweep at Texas and became the first Wolves player since Hall of Famer Darren Haydar in 2006-07 to score at least four points in back-to-back games.
The Plano, Texas, native enjoyed a wonderful trip to his home state as he scored two goals Saturday night (including the overtime game-winner) and added two more goals Sunday afternoon (including the second-period game-winner). Noesen finished the three-game set with four goals and three assists to move to a tie for fourth in the AHL with 24 points (10G, 14A).
Not to be outdone by his linemates, Smith needed just two periods Friday night to rack up his second career hat trick. The 27-year-old Des Moines native added another goal Saturday night, then handed out two assists Sunday to move into second place among AHL scoring leaders with 27 points (10G, 17A). He carries a four-game point streak into this week.
SUNDAY, DEC. 12: CHICAGO 7, (at) TEXAS 2
- After giving up the opening goal in the opening minute, the Wolves responded with the next five tallies to sweep the three-game set in Texas and push their winning streak to nine games.
- Forwards Stefan Noesen and Jack Drury posted two goals and one assist apiece while defenseman Josh Jacobs
- and forwards Andrew Poturalski and Spencer Smallman also scored.
Goaltender Eetu Makiniemi posted 26 saves to earn his fifth straight win.
SATURDAY, DEC. 11: CHICAGO 4, (at) TEXAS 3 (OT)
- After the Wolves and Stars took turns scoring one goal each period during regulation, Andrew Poturalski set up Stefan Noesen 3:20 into overtime for Chicago’s eighth straight win.
- Noesen posted two goals, Poturalski produced four points (G, 3A), C.J. Smith scored one goal and defenseman Jesper Sellgren handed out two assists.
- Goaltender Alex Lyon rejected 27 shots to win his fourth game in a row.
THURSDAY, DEC. 9: CHICAGO 8, (AT) TEXAS 4
- After the teams took turns scoring the game’s first four goals in the opening 3:36 and trading the first eight goals in 32 minutes, the Wolves scored the final four to win their seventh in a row.
- Forward C.J. Smith posted a hat trick and Josh Leivo scored a career-high five points as Leivo (2 goals), Andrew Poturalski, Jack Drury and Joey Keane lit the lamp for the Wolves.
- Goaltender Eetu Makiniemi recorded 19 saves to earn his fourth straight win.
NEXT FIVE GAMES
|Thursday, Dec. 16||vs. Manitoba||11 a.m.||Allstate Arena||AHLTV|
|Friday, Dec. 17||at Milwaukee||7 p.m.||Panther Arena||AHLTV|
|Saturday, Dec. 18||vs. Milwaukee||7 p.m.||Allstate Arena||My50|
|Wednesday, Dec. 22||at Cleveland||6 p.m.||Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse||AHLTV|
|Thursday, Dec. 23||at Cleveland||6 p.m.||Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse||AHLTV|
All games are streamed on AHLTV.