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.
IT TAKES A VILLAGE TO BUILD A STREAK
The Chicago Wolves will carry a 12-game winning streak into Wednesday’s game at Cleveland. If the Wolves defeat the Monsters, they’ll set a franchise record for longest winning streak and tie the American Hockey League’s longest winning streak over the last three years.
While the big scorers like captain Andrew Poturalski and C.J. Smith (the AHL’s top two point producers) and the big-time goaltenders like Alex Lyon and Eetu Makiniemi (two of the AHL’s top four in goals-against average) have received a lot of the attention over the last month, praise for this squad’s success deserves to be spread among all 29 players who have suited up over the last 12 games.
“We just play,” said Wolves head coach Ryan Warsofsky, lauding his team’s work ethic. “We just keep playing. It doesn’t matter the situation. Power play. PK. We go up a goal, we go down a goal. We just keep playing. And it’s credit to the group in (the dressing room). Whoever puts on a jersey is playing toward our identity.”
With seven players recalled from loan by the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes (forwards Poturalski, Smith, Jack Drury, Josh Leivo and Stefan Noesen and defensemen Jalen Chatfield and Max Lajoie) and a few others dealing with injuries, the Wolves called up six players from the ECHL to help fill the gaps. Despite missing their top five scorers Friday and Saturday against the Milwaukee Admirals, the Wolves still had enough firepower and enough confidence to win those games and extend the team’s streak to 12 games.
“I hope that they feel confident. I feel the best hockey player is a confident one,” Warsofsky said. “So we try our best to do that — and have a game plan for what we want to do in certain situations. And the guys are buying into that.”
A BIG HELP TO THE ‘canes
The Carolina Hurricanes boast the NHL’s best record (21-7-1) and several members of the Wolves have helped them rise to the top. On Thursday, 21-year-old Winnetka native Jack Drury scored in his NHL debut and Andrew Poturalski earned his first NHL point (an assist) in a 5-3 win over Detroit. On Saturday, Drury scored again, Poturalski added an assist and Josh Leivo handed out an assist in Carolina’s 5-1 win over Los Angeles.
GET READY FOR THE CHICAGO NEW YEAR’S CLASSIC!
For the first time in team history, the Wolves host a game on New Year’s Day. What better way to ring in 2022 than with the Wolves and Rockford in the Chicago New Year’s Classic, presented by Planet Fitness! The first 5,000 fans to enter Allstate Arena for the 7 p.m. game get a Rally Towel courtesy of Planet Fitness. To get 30% off tickets (a limited-time deal), click here and use the code “CLASSIC”
THANK YOU FOR DONATING
The Wolves offer a huge thank you to all of the people who volunteered their time and their whole blood to make Saturday’s blood drive with Vitalant a huge success!
Vitalant received more than 130 donations at Allstate Arena’s Skyline Room, which will make a big difference over the holidays as there are always critical shortages at this time of year.
The veteran goaltender from Yale earned two more wins last week — Thursday vs. Manitoba and Saturday vs. Milwaukee —to improve his record to 9-1-1. His 1.79 goals-against average ranks second in the AHL. During the Wolves’ 12-game winning streak, Lyon owns a 6-0-0 record with 2 shutouts, a 1.63 goals-against average and a .940 save percentage.
The rookie goaltender from Finland earned one win last week — a shutout Friday night at Milwaukee — to improve his record 11-2-1. His 2.06 goals-against average ranks fourth in the AHL. During the Wolves’ 12-game winning streak, Makiniemi owns a 6-0-0 record with 1 shutout, a 1.82 goals-against average and a .927 save percentage.
As a rookie last year, Cotton led the Wolves with 14 goals in 26 games. But injuries set him back for a month. Given a chance to move up the lineup with the team’s top five scorers in the NHL, Cotton stepped up by scoring the game-tying goal in the third period of Thursday’s win over Manitoba and scoring the game-winner in Saturday’s victory over Milwaukee.
SATURDAY, DEC. 18: (at) CHICAGO 4, MILWAUKEE 2
- The Wolves produced their franchise-record-tying 12th straight win as they scored almost every way possible: Even-strength, on the power play, short-handed and with an empty net.
- Forwards David Gust, Jamieson Rees, David Cotton and Spencer Smallman scored goals while Cotton and Smallman earned the primary assist on each other’s goals.
- Goaltender Alex Lyon posted 29 saves to win his sixth start in a row.
FRIDAY, DEC. 17: CHICAGO 1, (at) MILWAUKEE 0 (OT)
- After 60 scoreless minutes — the 11th scoreless regulation in Wolves history — forward Dominik Bokk scored 2:50 into overtime to give the Wolves their 11th consecutive win.
- Bokk’s game-winner was unassisted as he dashed up the right wing, pivoted in the high slot and fired a wrister from the top of the left circle that beat goaltender Connor Ingram.
- Goaltender Eetu Makiniemi stopped 25 saves for his second shutout and sixth straight win.
THURSDAY, DEC. 16: (AT) CHICAGO 4, MANITOBA 3
- Forward Josh Leivo’s highlight-reel goal with 1.1 seconds left not only completed a rally from a 3-1 deficit, it pushed the Wolves to their 10th straight win — second-longest streak in team history.
- Defenseman Artyom Serikov and forwards Maxim Letunov and David Cotton also scored goals while Leivo and forward Jamieson Rees each posted two assists.
- Goaltender Alex Lyon notched a season-high 33 saves to win his fifth game in a row.
NEXT FIVE GAMES
|Wednesday, Dec. 22||at Cleveland||6 p.m.||Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse||AHLTV|
|Thursday, Dec. 23||at Cleveland||6 p.m.||Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse||AHLTV|
|Friday, Dec. 31||at Rockford||6 p.m.||MetroCentre||AHLTV|
|Saturday, Jan. 1||vs. Rockford||7 p.m.||Allstate Arena||My50|
|Sunday, Jan. 2||vs. Grand Rapids||3 p.m.||Allstate Arena||AHLTV|
All games are streamed on AHLTV.