CHICAGO WOLVES (24-6-3-1)
AT MANITOBA MOOSE (21-10-2-1)
NOW FOR THE RUBBER MATCH
The Chicago Wolves and Manitoba Moose have met twice this season when the Wolves stood No. 1 in the Central Division and the Moose ranked No. 2.
The first time around on Dec. 16 at Allstate Arena, the Moose led almost the entire way until forward Josh Leivo scored with 1.1 seconds remaining to give the Wolves a 4-3 victory. But if you asked for a sampling of opinions, the general verdict would be the Moose probably had the better of the play overall.
The second time around Saturday at Canada Life Centre, the Moose never trailed and claimed a 4-3 victory when forward Evan Polei scored 1:18 into overtime. But if you asked for a sampling of opinions, the general verdict would be the Wolves probably had the better of the play overall — especially throughout the second and third periods when they outshot the Moose 26-13 and outchanced them by a similar ratio.
So what might happen in the rubber match between No. 1 and No. 2? After getting Dylan Wells his first appearance in goal Saturday after serving as Alex Lyon’s backup three times, the Wolves figure to turn to Lyon today. The 29-year-old New York City resident ranks fourth in the AHL with his 2.11 goals-against average and boasts a 10-2-2 record. He was in goal when the Wolves rallied for the Dec. 16 win.
NEXT MEN UP
Over the previous 16 days, the Wolves have brought in eight new players from the ECHL to fill spots that came open due to injuries, illness and NHL recalls. Forward Chase Lang and goaltender Dylan Wells became the sixth and seventh players to make their Wolves debuts when they suited up Saturday.
Of course, when spots come open, it’s not just about the new players filling out the bottom of the lineup. It’s also about other players getting a chance to move up. Saturday, for example, the Wolves didn’t have three of their top six forwards as Josh Leivo and Stefan Noesen are with Carolina (NHL) and CJ Smith sat out due to illness.
This gave Orland Park native David Gust his first chance to play on the Wolves’ top line this season — he served as the right wing alongside left wing Sam Miletic and captain Andrew Poturalski — and Gust handed out two assists for the first time since March 11, 2020, for the Charlotte Checkers.
The David Cotton-Maxim Letunov-Ivan Lodnia line also stepped up as Letunov produced two points (G, A) for the first time since the Wolves and Moose met on Dec. 16. The Wolves also benefited from forward Spencer Smallman and defenseman Josh Jacobs returning from injury. Jacobs fired a team-high-tying 4 shots in his first action since Jan. 8. Smallman helped on the second line alongside Jack Drury and Jamieson Rees in his first game since Jan. 9.
we are the wolves
To show their gratitude to the health care workers who have worked tirelessly throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the Wolves are offering two free tickets to all healthcare workers.
The offer is good for any of the Wolves’ next three home games: Wednesday vs. the Texas Stars, Friday vs. the Grand Rapids Griffins and Saturday vs. the Rockford IceHogs. To request tickets, click here.
Also, the the Wolves will wear special Healthcare Heroes jerseys, presented by Turtle Wax, Jan. 28-29. All of them are being auctioned to benefit Chicago Wolves Charities and three local healthcare-related charities: NAMI Illinois, the Illinois Association of School Nurses and the Chicago chapter of the National Black Nurses Association. To learn how to bid on these commemorative jerseys, click here.
LAST TWO GAMES
- Defenseman Joey Keane scored with 1:39 left in regulation — moments after head coach Ryan Warsofsky pulled the goalie for an extra attacker — as the Wolves forced OT after a 2-goal deficit.
- Captain Andrew Poturalski scored his league-leading 19th goal, center Maxim Letunov notched one goal and one assist and forward David Gust handed out two assists.
- Goaltender Dylan Wells posted 23 saves in his Wolves debut.
- The Wolves scored four goals in a six-minute, 27-second stretch of the second period to transform a 2-1 deficit into a permanent lead during a Martin Luther King, Jr. Day matinee.
- Forward Stefan Noesen produced two goals and one assist while captain Andrew Poturalski and CJ Smith notched one goal and two assists. Forward David Gust also scored for the Wolves.
- Goaltender Alex Lyon stopped 15 shots as the Wolves outshot the IceHogs 45-18.
By the numbers
0: The Wolves were whistled for zero penalty minutes Saturday at Manitoba, which marked just the fifth time in franchise history they never needed to make a trip to the penalty box. This hadn’t happened since April 2, 2015, when Chicago earned a 4-2 victory at the Hamilton Bulldogs. The Wolves also avoided all whistles on Jan. 21, 2015, at Grand Rapids (a 4-2 victory), March 13, 2010, vs. Houston (a 2-1 shootout win) and March 6, 2009, at Peoria (a 4-2 loss). There only has been one occasion when a Wolves opponent finished with no penalty minutes: When Chicago earned a 1-0 win over Oklahoma City on Feb. 13, 2015, at Allstate Arena. The Moose (4 PIMs) and Wolves just missed the franchise record for fewest combined penalty minutes. Chicago’s record is 2, done six times.
5: With less than three weeks before the men’s Olympics hockey tournament begins Feb. 9 in Beijing, several countries have solidified their 25-man rosters and five former Wolves (to date) are going to suit up. High-scoring forward Kenny Agostino, the 2016-17 AHL Most Valuable Player, and defenseman David Warsofsky (younger brother of Wolves head coach Ryan Warsofsky) will represent the United States. Tomas Hyka, a top scorer on the 2019 Calder Cup finalists, will play for the Czech Republic. Former defenseman Petteri Lindbohm will play for Finland while forward Nicklas Jensen, who posted a hat trick for the Wolves on April 15, 2012, in his sixth pro game, will be a part of Denmark’s first Olympics squad.
16: The Wolves’ penalty kill units have defused opponents’ last 16 power plays dating back to the 9:44 mark of second period of their Jan. 9 home win over Cleveland, which means it has been 332 minutes and 50 seconds since the last time Chicago allowed a power-play goal. This streak of excellence has pushed the Wolves to No. 9 in the AHL rankings with an 82.5 percent kill rate.
35.0: 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 35.0 shots per game, which owns first in the 31-team AHL with Colorado (34.09) the nearest pursuer.
113: It’s dangerous to try to project season point totals when a team hasn’t even reached the halfway point, but we’re going to keep doing it. Wolves captain Andrew Poturalski boasts a league-high 48 points (19G, 29A) in just 31 games this season, which gives him a legitimate chance to become the first AHL player since Philadelphia’s Peter White in 1997-98 to win back-to-back scoring titles. Anyway, if Poturalski maintains this 1.548 points-per-game the rest of the season and has the good fortune to play in the Wolves’ 42 remaining games, then he’s on pace to finish with 113 points this season. No one has scored that many points in an AHL season since the Wolves’ Darren Haydar stacked up 122 points (55G, 81A) in 73 games on his way to winning the league’s MVP award in 2006-07.
416: Since the Wolves played their first game on Oct. 1, 1994, a total of 719 players have suited up for Chicago. Goaltender Dylan Wells and forward Chase Lang became Nos. 718 and 719 when they made their Wolves debuts Saturday. When center Jack Drury made his debut with Carolina on Dec. 16, he became the 416th Wolves alum to compete in the greatest league in the world. Put another way, 57.9 percent of all Wolves have played in the NHL.
NEXT FIVE GAMES
|Wednesday, Jan. 26||vs. Texas||7 p.m.||Allstate Arena||AHLTV|
|Friday, Jan. 28||vs. Grand Rapids||7 p.m.||Allstate Arena||My50|
|Saturday, Jan. 29||vs. Rockford||7 p.m.||Allstate Arena||My50|
|Friday, Feb. 4||at Milwaukee||7 p.m.||Panther Arena||AHLTV|
|Saturday, Feb. 5||at Milwaukee||6 p.m.||Panther Arena||AHLTV|
All games are streamed on AHLTV.