TEXAS STARS (10-14-4-2)
AT CHICAGO WOLVES (24-7-3-1)
HEALTHCARE HEROES HOMESTAND
The Chicago Wolves announced Thursday they’re offering two free tickets to all health care workers for any of the team’s three home games this week. It’s part of the Wolves’ season-long spotlight on health care workers, which features the commemorative Healthcare Heroes jerseys, presented by Turtle Wax, that the team will wear Friday against Grand Rapids and Saturday versus Rockford.
All of these jerseys are being auctioned and raffled to benefit Chicago Wolves Charities and three local health care-related charities: The Illinois Association of School Nurses, the Chicago chapter of the National Black Nurses Association and the National Alliance on Mental Illness of Illinois.
Anyone who wants to request free tickets or to bid on any of the Healthcare Heroes jerseys can find all of the information necessary here.
As for the players who’ll be wearing the jerseys this week, Wolves head coach Ryan Warsofsky looks for a bounceback after his Central Division-leading squad earned one point of a possible four at second-place Manitoba.
“I thought our first game we battled back and got a point,” Warsofsky said. “It showed we can, no matter what the deficit, we can come back. The second game, we had an OK start, really good second (period) and then we lost some killer instinct in our game. We outchanced them, but we couldn’t find a way to score.”
The Wolves regained one of the AHL’s best scorers (and killer instincts) when Stefan Noesen was reassigned by Charlotte (NHL) on Monday. Noesen shares second in the league with 18 goals, including 12 in his last nine AHL games dating back to Dec. 11. He spent last weekend on the Canes’ taxi squad.
YOU DON’T KNOW JACK…YET
Stefan Noesen wasn’t the only player sent the Wolves’ way Monday. Carolina also loaned rookie goaltender Jack LaFontaine, who turned pro Jan. 9 when he truncated his super-senior season at the University of Minnesota to join the Hurricanes on a one-year entry-level contract.
LaFontaine accomplished about everything possible in the college game. Last, year, he earned the Mike Richter Award that goes to the nation’s best college goaltender. He also received first-team all-American honors and Academic All-American status and was named a Hobey Baker Award finalist after going 22-7-0 with a school-record 1.79 goals-against average and .934 save percentage.
The 24-year-old Mississauga, Ontario, native made his NHL debut in relief on Jan. 13 vs. Columbus, then played his first full game Saturday at New Jersey. He owns an 0-1-0 record with a 7.20 GAA and a .780 save percentage. When he makes his first Wolves appearance, he’ll be the seventh goaltender to play for the team this year — setting the franchise record.
we are the wolves
Today represents Texas captain Curtis McKenzie’s first game at Allstate Arena since March 8, 2020, when he scored a pair of goals to lead the Wolves to a 3-2 overtime victory over the Rockford IceHogs in the team’s final game before COVID-19 canceled the season.
During the 2019-20 season, the popular McKenzie posted a team-high-tying 17 goals with 25 assists while playing in all 61 games and wearing an “A” alongside fellow veterans Patrick Brown and Jaycob Megna. McKenzie also wore an “A” for the Wolves’ 2019 Calder Cup finalists. He paced the Wolves with 8 postseason goals and added 7 assists in 21 games.
LAST TWO GAMES
- Converted defenseman Nelson Nogier scored two goals in the third period — including an empty-net goal with 18 seconds to go — as the Moose rallied to win at Canada Life Centre.
- Forward David Cotton scored in the first period with assists from defenseman Josh Jacobs and center Maxim Letunov as the Wolves outshot the Moose 41-23.
- Goaltender Alex Lyon stopped 20 of 22 shots.
- 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.
By the numbers
0: The Wolves have played just nine games in this calendar year, but they’ve already registered two rare zeroes in important statistical categories. On Saturday at Manitoba, the Wolves were whistled for zero penalties for the first time since April 2, 2015, and just the fifth time in the franchise’s 28-year history. On Jan. 15 at Iowa, the Wolves failed to earn a power-play opportunity for the first time since Feb. 13, 2015, and just the fourth time in franchise history.
10: 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 10 former Wolves (to date) are going to suit up. Team Canada officially announced its roster Tuesday and 2018-19 AHL Most Valuable Player Daniel Carr leads a group of four former Wolves slated to play. He’ll be joined by forwards Adam Cracknell and Landon Ferraro and goaltender Edward Pasquale. Defenseman Morgan Ellis is an alternate while Nolan Baumgartner (Wolves captain in 2011-12 and assistant coach in 2012-13) will serve as one of Claude Julien’s assistants. Latvia announced its roster Monday and defenseman Arturs Kulda, who led the AHL with a team-record +46 plus/minus rating in 2009-10, is representing his country for the second time. He also played in the 2014 Sochi Games. They join the previously announced Kenny Agostino and David Warsofsky (USA), Tomas Hyka (Czech Republic), Petteri Lindbohm (Finland) and Nicklas Jensen (Denmark) on Olympic rosters.
20: The Wolves’ penalty kill units have defused opponents’ last 20 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 392 minutes and 50 seconds since the last time Chicago allowed a power-play goal. This streak of excellence has pushed the Wolves to No. 7 in the AHL rankings with an 83.1 percent kill rate.
35.17: 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 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 35.17 shots per game, which owns first in the 31-team AHL with Colorado (34.09) the nearest pursuer.
110: 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 32 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 1.5 points-per-game pace the rest of the season and has the good fortune to play in the Wolves’ 41 remaining games, then he’s scheduled to finish with 110 points this season. No one has scored that many points in an AHL season since the Wolves’ Jason Krog stacked up 112 points (39G, 73A) in 80 games on his way to winning the league’s MVP award in 2007-08.
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
|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|
|Tuesday, Feb. 8||at Cleveland||6 p.m.||Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse||AHLTV|
All games are streamed on AHLTV.