CHICAGO WOLVES (23-6-1-1)
AT IOWA WILD (13-13-2-2)
LET’S HEAR IT FOR LEIVO
If Chicago Wolves forward Josh Leivo is in the lineup for tonight’s game versus the Iowa Wild at Wells Fargo Arena, then he’ll register his 400th professional regular-season game.
The 28-year-old from Innisfil, Ontario, has appeared in 210 NHL games and 189 AHL contests since making his professional debut as an 18-year-old for the Toronto Marlies on April 6, 2012. He has racked up 37 goals and 38 assists for the Toronto Maple Leafs, Vancouver Canucks, Calgary Flames and Carolina Hurricanes and produced 57 goals and 86 assists for the Marlies and Wolves.
This is Leivo’s first season in Chicago and he heated up at the exact same time as the Wolves embarked on their franchise-record-tying 12-game winning streak. After stacking up four goals and 10 assists in six games during December, Leivo earned the American Hockey League’s Player of the Month award along with a recall from the Hurricanes.
Leivo’s spree included a career-high 10 shots on Dec. 5 at Iowa and a professional-best 5 points (2G, 3A) on Dec. 9 at Texas.
“His game has come a long way,” said Wolves head coach Ryan Warsofsky. “I thought he had a slower start. He’s been in the NHL the last couple years, so coming here was probably not the best thing for his mindset. But he has really flushed it and he wants to have fun and play and get better. As an older guy, he’s a guy we can really rely on in the room. He’s a guy that other guys follow and look up to and he’s a really important part of our squad.”
“I don’t think I’ve ever been a part of something like this,” Leivo said. “I think everyone’s just loose in the (dressing) room, the coaches are great…I believe anyone can produce on this team. We’ve got a lot of skill. It’s a fun group to be a part of and we’re just going with the flow.”
MAKING SOME MOVES
Before the Wolves and the Wild hit the ice for Iowa’s 4-3 home win Friday night, the Wolves conducted a pair of transactions. Third-year pro Joey Keane was recalled from loan by the Carolina Hurricanes (AHL) while center Stephen Harper was traded to the Tucson (AHL) Roadrunners for future considerations.
For Keane, who was born in Evanston and grew up in Homer Glen, the recall was a reward for showing marked improvement over the last month. After posting one goal and six assists in the Wolves’ first 20 games, he produced one goal and seven assists over the last 10 games. Keane, who assumed the point on the Wolves’ top power-play unit, also cranked up his shot attempts (including 8 against Iowa on Dec. 4) and his feistiness. Keane racked up 38 of his team-high 50 penalty minutes over the last 12 games.
we are the wolves
With the Olympics men’s hockey competition scheduled to start on Feb. 9 in Beijing, countries are starting to reveal their official rosters and coaching staffs.
The United States’ roster features two former Wolves in forward Kenny Agostino and defenseman David Warsofsky. Agostino earned the AHL’s MVP award in 2016-17 after scoring 83 points in 59 games while Warsofsky helped the Wolves win the 2021 Central Division crown.
The Czech Republic added forward Tomas Hyka to its roster while Team Canada named Nolan Baumgartner an assistant coach. Baumgartner captained the 2011-12 Wolves squad and served as an assistant in 2012-13.
LAST TWO GAMES
- The Wolves fought back from a two-goal deficit to forge a tie in the third period, but Iowa’s Nick Swaney posted a shorthanded goal with 5:49 remaining to pick up the win at Wells Fargo Arena.
- Captain Andrew Poturalski, Des Moines native C.J. Smith and defenseman Max Lajoie scored goals while Stefan Noesen earned two primary assists.
- Goaltender Alex Lyon posted 25 saves as his six-game winning streak came to a close.
WEDNESDAY, JAN. 12: (AT) CHICAGO 4, GRAND RAPIDS 0
- For the fourth time in his last six games, forward Stefan Noesen scored two goals as the Wolves broke to an early 2-0 lead and cruised to their 15th win in the last 16 games.
- Captain Andrew Poturalski added one goal and one assist, forward Jack Drury scored a goal and defenseman Joey Keane handed out two assists.
- Goaltender Daniel Mannella rejected all 23 shots he faced to earn his first professional shutout.
By the numbers
.813: Despite Friday night’s 4-3 loss at Wells Fargo Arena, the Wolves own the AHL’s best road record at 13-3-0-0. The Wolves’ .813 points percentage and Utica Comets’ .750 showing (8-2-2) make them the only AHL teams playing at better than a .656 clip on the road. The franchise record for best single-season road record was set by John Anderson’s 2006-07 squad, which posted a 27-8-2-3 record for a .738 points percentage.
1-2-3: If you visit TheAHL.com and search for the league’s leading point-producers, the first three names you see all play for the Wolves. Captain Andrew Poturalski recorded his 17th goal and 27th assist Friday night to retain his 11-point lead over the rest of the league. Stefan Noesen handed out two assists Friday (including a long backhand pass to Poturalski that Wolves color analyst Billy Gardner referred to as “Gretzky-like”) to push his season totals to 15 goals and 18 assists. C.J. Smith posted one goal and one assist to move to 33 points as well (11G, 22A). (By the way, former Wolves standout T.J. Tynan also owns 33 points for the Ontario Reign.) When was the last time players from the same team held the top two spots on the final scoring list? You have to spin back to 2009-10 when Hershey’s Keith Aucoin (106 points) and Alexandre Giroux (103 points) led the charge as the Bears went on to win the Calder Cup.
6: Wolves goaltender Alex Lyon finally saw his six-game winning streak come to a halt. The 29-year-old Baudette, Minnesota, native had not dropped a decision since a 3-2 shootout loss to Rockford on Nov. 20 at Allstate Arena. During his run, Lyon shut out Iowa in back-to-back starts and wound up with a 1.63 goals-against average and .940 save percentage to help Chicago secure half of its franchise-record-tying 12-game winning streak. Friday’s game was Lyon’s first for the Wolves since Dec. 18 as he spent two stints on the Carolina roster, which included playing all of last Saturday’s 4-3 overtime loss to the Florida Panthers. His current goaltending partner, Dylan Wells, suited up for his first Wolves game Friday night. If the 23-year-old gets the nod tonight, it will mark his first action for the Wolves and become the sixth netminder to play for the team this year.
8: The Wolves have fought in just eight games this season, but games tend to change dramatically once a bout occurs. Here’s the scoop: The Wolves have trailed by a combined score of 17-6 before their fights, but outscored their opponents 17-3 afterward. What does that mean in terms of wins and losses? At the time of the fights, the Wolves trailed six times, were tied once and led once. They transformed those circumstances into seven wins (including Dec. 4 at Iowa) and just one loss.
34.74: 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 34.74 shots per game, which owns first in the 31-team AHL with Colorado (34.26) the nearest pursuer.
416: Since the Wolves played their first game on Oct. 1, 1994, a total of 715 players have suited up for Chicago. Defenseman Marcus McIvor became No. 715 when he made his AHL debut in Sunday’s win over Cleveland. 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, 58.2 percent of all Wolves have played in the NHL.
NEXT FIVE GAMES
|Monday, Jan. 17||at Rockford||1 p.m.||MetroCentre||AHLTV|
|Saturday, Jan. 22||at Manitoba||2 p.m.||Canada Life Centre||AHLTV|
|Sunday, Jan. 23||at Manitoba||2 p.m.||Canada Life Centre||AHLTV|
|Wednesday, Jan. 26||vs. Texas||7 p.m.||Allstate Arena||AHLTV|
|Friday, Jan. 28||vs. Grand Rapids||7 p.m.||Allstate Arena||My50|
All games are streamed on AHLTV.