CLEVELAND MONSTERS (11-8-4-3)
AT CHICAGO WOLVES (21-5-1-1)
A FINE RESPONSE
Chicago Wolves head coach Ryan Warsofsky says he’ll remember his team’s 8-0 loss Friday night at Rockford until the day he dies. Not only is that an indication of how the 34-year-old is wired — he has a prodigious memory for details of the lowest lows — it’s an indictment of how the little the Wolves showed in their first game in 20 days. That had Warsofsky a bit on edge as the Wolves prepared for Saturday night’s home date with Iowa.
“As a coach, sometimes when you lose, you don’t know when you’re going to win again,” Warsofsky said. “So that was the feeling I had. I think the guys were ready to respond after meeting with them (Saturday) morning.”
The guys carried that response into Saturday night’s 6-2 victory over the Wild as there were heroes aplenty in Allstate Arena’s home dressing room.
Top-line power forward Stefan Noesen, who Warsofsky met with Saturday morning, as he racked up two goals and one assist in the opening 26 minutes and played like a wrecking ball all night. Captain Andrew Poturalski added two goals and an assist of his own to push his AHL-leading point total to 37.
Forward Sam Miletic, elevated to the first line alongside Noesen and Poturalski for the first time this season, produced three points in a game (G, 2A) for the first time since April 7, 2019, when he played for the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.
Forward C.J. Smith racked up his 100th AHL assist. Rookie forward Ivan Lodnia exulted after registering his first professional goal (and point) in North America against his previous organization. Max Lajoie handed out two assists and joined Noesen, Poturalski and Miletic with +4 plus/minus ratings.
Then there were the goalies. ECHL signee Michael Lackey, one night after making his AHL debut, toughed out 28 minutes, 23 seconds with an injury before bequeathing a 4-2 lead to backup Daniel Mannella, who arrived in the afternoon from Texas and stopped all 16 shots he faced in his AHL debut to preserve Lackey’s first AHL win.
Warsofsky rewarded Lackey, Mannella and Lodnia with game pucks, but of course the Wolves didn’t escape the game without more adversity. After losing four players to injury Friday — one in morning skate and three in the game — Lackey and defenseman Josh Jacobs were sidelined Saturday night.
That means the Wolves have added two more players to take on the Cleveland Monsters today in both teams’ third game in three days. The Wolves have signed Toledo (ECHL) goaltender Billy Christopoulos and Fort Wayne (ECHL) defenseman Marcus McIvor to professional tryout contracts.
we are the wolves
We’re barely more than one-third of the way through this season’s schedule, but this Wolves squad already has made several dents in the team record book. Here are a few of the new entries:
Longest winning streak: Head coach Ryan Warsofsky’s squad ripped off 12 straight wins from Nov. 26 to Dec. 18 to tie the franchise record set in 1999-2000.
Best start through 25 games: The Wolves posted a 19-4-1-1 mark in their first 25, which bested the record set by the 1997-98 squad. John Anderson’s team opened 18-5-2 on its way to the 1998 Turner Cup championship.
Biggest regulation rally: The Wolves trailed the Grand Rapids 3-0 at second intermission on Nov. 26, but reeled off five goals in the third period to earn a 5-3 win. It marked the first time in franchise history that they trailed by three or more in the third and rallied to win in regulation.
LAST TWO GAMES
- Led by Stefan Noesen’s two goals and one assist, the Wolves stacked up five goals in the opening 32 minutes to register their 13th win in the last 14 games.
- Captain Andrew Poturalski also notched two goals and one assist, Sam Miletic scored a season-high 3 points (G, 2A) and rookie Ivan Lodnia produced his first North American professional goal.
- Goaltender Michael Lackey notched 11 saves in the first 28 minutes to pick up his first AHL win and Daniel Mannella stopped 16 of 16 shots in relief to highlight his AHL debut.
- Playing for the first time in 20 days, the Wolves were shut out for the first time in 719 days as their franchise-record-tying 12-game winning streak came to a close.
- Rockford goaltender Collin Delia, who had posted the previous Wolves shutout on Jan. 19, 2020, rejected 30 shots to pick up his first shutout of the season.
- Goaltender Michael Lackey, signed to a PTO that afternoon, stopped 27 shots in his AHL debut.
By the numbers
4: The Wolves have signed four goaltenders to professional tryout contracts since Friday afternoon, which explains why they have six goaltenders on today’s roster. To recap this absurd 48-hour stretch: Beck Warm, expected to rotate starts with Alex Lyon this weekend, suffered an injury during Friday’s morning skate. In the early afternoon, Lyon was recalled from loan by the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes (and he wound up earning third-star status Saturday night in a 4-3 overtime loss to Florida). Wolves general manager Wendell Young worked the phones like crazy to find Indy Fuel (ECHL) backup Michael Lackey and local semipro Caydon Edwards for Friday’s game at Rockford. Realizing he’d need one more goalie this weekend, Young arranged for 26-year-old Daniel Mannella to fly to Chicago Saturday after playing for the Tulsa Oilers (ECHL) Friday night in Texas. Then, when Lackey left Saturday’s game with a lower-body injury, Young worked the phones again to land Toledo Walleye netminder Billy Christopoulos for today. He holds a 13-2-2 record with a 2.45 goals-against average and .922 save percentage. If he plays today as Mannella’s backup, it won’t be the 27-year-old Air Force graduate’s first AHL action. He appeared in five games last year for Rochester and posted a 1-1-0 mark with a 6.03 GAA and .815 save percentage.
10: Just like the Wolves have more goaltenders on their roster than normal due to injury, they have 10 defensemen on today’s roster due to four injuries within the position group. Fort Wayne’s Marcus McIvor becomes No. 10 today after racing to Chicago from Toledo, where he earned an assist in the Komets’ 4-1 win. The 27-year-old from Whitby, Ontario, owns 3 goals and 12 assists in 27 games for Fort Wayne this season. He also owns a Kelly Cup ring after helping the Komets win the ECHL crown last year. He posted 4 points (G, 3A) and a +7 plus/minus rating in 7 games.
6: On Monday, veteran forward Josh Leivo became the sixth player in Wolves history to be honored as the AHL’s Player of the Month. Leivo racked up 14 points (4G, 10A) and one game-winning goal in six games to earn the award for December. When coupled with captain Andrew Poturalski’s Player of the Month honor in October, this marked the first time the Wolves have won a pair of Player of the Month awards in the same season since the AHL originated the award in 2007-08. Who are the other four Wolves to win AHL Player of the Month? Eventual AHL MVP Kenny Agostino (Dec. 2016), Brandon Pirri (Nov. 2018), eventual AHL MVP Daniel Carr (Feb. 2019) and current Minnesota Wild forward Rem Pitlick (Feb. 2021).
34.89: The Wolves’ single-season record for shots per game was set by the 1998-99 squad with 34.65 per outing. That led the 16-team International Hockey League that season — and marks the only time in the Wolves’ first 27 years they’ve led their league in shots per game. This year’s crew has a chance to break the team record AND become the second in franchise annals to lead the league. The Wolves average 34.89 shots per game, which owns first place in the 31-team AHL with Colorado (33.97) the nearest pursuer.
416: Since the Wolves played their first game on Oct. 1, 1994, a total of 714 players have suited up for Chicago. Goaltender Daniel Mannellla became No. 714 when he made his AHL debut during the second period Saturday night. When center Jack Drury made his debut with the Carolina Hurricanes Dec. 16, he became the 416th Wolves alum to compete in the greatest league in the world. Put another way, 58.3 percent of all Wolves have played in the NHL.
NEXT FIVE GAMES
|Wednesday, Jan. 12||vs. Grand Rapids||7 p.m.||Allstate Arena||My50|
|Friday, Jan. 14||at Iowa||6 p.m.||Wells Fargo Arena||AHLTV|
|Saturday, Jan. 15||at Iowa||6 p.m.||Wells Fargo Arena||AHLTV|
|Monday, Jan. 17||at Rockford||1 p.m.||MetroCentre||AHLTV|
|Saturday, Jan. 22||at Manitoba||2 p.m.||Canada Life Centre||AHLTV|
All games are streamed on AHLTV.