IOWA WILD (20-18-3-3)
AT CHICAGO WOLVES (28-10-4-3)
HAT TRICK AND HAT TIP
In his 401st professional game, 29-year-old forward Stefan Noesen finally produced his first professional hat trick in the Chicago Wolves’ 5-3 victory over the Iowa Wild Saturday night at Allstate Arena. Considering the Plano, Texas, native had racked up six 2-goal games since Dec. 11, it seemed only a matter of time before Noesen broke through and earned a third goal.
But as much as the Wolves needed his three goals, Noesen might have done his best work when he stuck up for goaltender Pyotr Kochetkov in his North American debut.
Here was the situation: The Wolves trailed 3-2 with 2:29 remaining in the second period when Iowa took advantage of a turnover and fed Kyle Rau a little ahead of the pack. Rau fired from close range and Kochetkov stopped his low shot, but Rau didn’t stop while being pursued by defenseman Cavan Fitzgerald and he ran over Kochetkov.
That brought Noesen steaming toward Rau along the glass behind the net. He knocked him down, then re-engaged once Rau got up. They exchanged a few blows, wrestled a bit and, once the officials got in between, Noesen screamed at Rau. They each received two minutes for roughing, which was a small price for Noesen to pay as he again proved he’s eager to have his teammates’ backs.
“Yeah, it’s important. Team toughness is kind of what we want to talk about,” said head coach Ryan Warsofsky. “Pick each other up. Stick up for each other. When there’s a scrum, arrive in five. And I think ‘Nase’ has done that all year…nice of him to jump in there.”
GUST BLOWS HOT
In 2019-20, Orland Park native David Gust put up 11 goals in 60 games for Wolves head coach Ryan Warsofsky when both were with the Charlotte Checkers. When they moved from Charlotte to Chicago prior to last season, Warsofsky let people know Gust has a tendency to go on hot streaks — and he’s certainly on a heater now.
Gust, who turns 28 Monday, entered this weekend’s pair against the Iowa Wild with four goals and two assists in the last five games. That tied his career-high for point streak (five games) and goals in a five-game stretch (4) while boosting his season totals to 12 goals and 10 assists in 40 games. He’s on pace to finish with single-season bests for goals (21) and points (39).
“He’s probably playing the best hockey I’ve seen him play,” Warsofsky said. “He’s been a real boost for our second line — that secondary scoring that we really need. We’re going to ride the hot wave here.”
“I always think confidence is like a superpower,” Gust said. “You’re a different animal. You’re not thinking…there’s not that voice in your head. You’re just going out there playing and letting your natural instincts take over. When you have confidence, it’s a big key to success.”
we are the wolves
In addition to the popular Papa Johns Family Sunday festivities today, the Chicago Wolves are hosting Pride Day. The team has joined forces with Naper Pride, LGBTQ+ Center of Lake County and the Pinta Pride Project to celebrate Pride. As part of the partnership, the Wolves worked with each organization to provide special ticket offers to raise funds for them.
Metea Valley High School senior Jake Streder will be honored as a Hometown Hero before the game. Streder, a Naperville native who played on his school’s football team, appeared in the NFL 360 film “Human” that offered five accounts of how Las Vegas Raiders’ defensive lineman Carl Nassib’s decision to become the first active NFL player to come out affected them in a positive way.
LAST TWO GAMES
- Forward Stefan Noesen produced the first professional hat trick of his eight-year career, including the tying and insurance goals in the third period, to spark the Wolves’ rally.
- Forward Josh Leivo scored a power-play goal, defenseman Joey Keane delivered the game-winning goals and two assists while captain Andrew Poturalski handed out three assists.
- Goaltender Pyotr Kochetkov stopped 30 shots to win his North American pro debut.
- Forward Stefan Noesen scored his league-leading 23rd goal to stake the Wolves to a 2-0 lead, but Milwaukee answered with four scores in the second to swipe the School-Day Game win.
- Forwards David Gust and Josh Leivo also scored goals while Andrew Poturalski and Jack Drury contributed two assists apiece.
- Goaltender Alex Lyon notched 17 saves.
By the numbers
1: Congratulations to former Wolves defenseman Petteri Lindbohm, who played an intregal on Finland’s team that won the Olympics gold medal early Sunday morning! Lindbohm played 16 minutes and 22 seconds — sixth-most on the team — in Finland’s 2-1 victory over Russia. The 28-year-old from Helsinki recorded 18 goals and 30 assists in 171 regular-season games for the Wolves from 2013-17.
3: The Iowa Wild entered Saturday’s game as the AHL’s second-best penalty-kill unit with an 86.5 percent conversion rate, but the Wolves’ Josh Leivo, Stefan Noesen and Joey Keane hit them with power-play goals — just the second time this season Chicago registered 3 PPGs. The Wolves have tended to run hot or cold on the power play in recent weeks. Over the last 11 games, they have two 2-goal efforts, two 3-goal efforts and seven blankings.
8: Not only do the Wolves rank third among AHL teams in fewest goals allowed (2.62 per game), they’ve done it while using a franchise-record eight goaltenders this season. Pyotr Kochetkov became No. 8 when he won his North American debut Saturday night — joining Alex Lyon (21 games), Eetu Makiniemi (14 games), Jack LaFontaine (6 games), Daniel Mannella (3 games), Michael Lackey (2 games), Dylan Wells and Beck Warm (1 game each). The Wolves lead the AHL in most goaltenders utilized this season — one ahead of the Charlotte Checkers. Last year, the Toronto Marlies needed eight goaltenders to get through the 42-game season that was adversely affected by COVID-19. No AHL team has needed more than eight goaltenders since 2013-14, when the Charlotte Checkers and Oklahoma City Barons each required nine to survive the regular season.
10.18: The Wolves are gunning to become the first AHL team since the 2007-08 Providence Bruins to lead the league in Shots For (35.38) and Shots Against (25.2) in the same season. Their shots differential per game (10.18) ranks as the AHL’s biggest positive margin since the 2001-02 Saint John Flames managed a 11.51 shots advantage. The Wolves own just one Shots For title in their first 27 seasons — it happened in 1998-99 — and have yet to lead a league in Shots Against. If the Wolves maintain these shot averages the rest of the season, both will set single-season franchise records. Chicago has not been outscored since Jan. 7 at Rockford — a stretch of 18 games.
26: Forward Stefan Noesen regained the AHL goal-scoring lead Saturday when he produced his 24th, 25th and 26th tallies of the season. Abbotsford’s Sheldon Dries, who started the night as the leader with 24, settled for one assist in the Canucks’ 2-1 win at Colorado. Ontario’s Martin Frk scored two goals Saturday night to climb to 24. Noesen, by the way, owns 21 goals in his last 21 appearances — an all-time spree that began with an innocent goal Dec. 5 at Iowa.
62: Wolves captain Andrew Poturalski has been on a bit of a spree of his own in his quest to become the first AHL player to win back-to-back scoring titles since Philadelphia’s Peter White in 1996-97 and 1997-98. The 28-year-old Williamsville, New York, native racked up 3 assists Saturday night to push his current point streak to six games (1 goal, 10 assists). He now owns 62 points this season (21G, 41A) in 42 games, which means he’s on track to stack up 107 points this season. He would become the first AHL player to eclipse the 100-point barrier since 2010. Ontario center T.J. Tynan ranks second in the AHL with 54 points (9G, 45A).
418: Since the Wolves played their first game on Oct. 1, 1994, a total of 720 players have suited up for Chicago. Goaltender Pyotr Kochetkov became No. 721 when he made his North American debut Saturday night, while rookie goaltender Jack LaFontaine became the 418th player to compete for the Wolves and in the greatest league in the world when he made his Wolves debut on Jan. 26. Put another way, 58.0 percent of all Wolves have played in the NHL.
NEXT FIVE GAMES
|Saturday, Feb. 26||at Manitoba||2 p.m.||Canada Life Centre||AHLTV|
|Sunday, Feb. 27||at Manitoba||2 p.m.||Canada Life Centre||AHLTV|
|Wednesday, March 2||vs. Texas||7 p.m.||Allstate Arena||AHLTV|
|Saturday, March 5||vs. Texas||7 p.m.||Allstate Arena||My50|
|Sunday, March 6||vs. Iowa||3 p.m.||Allstate Arena||My50|
All games are streamed on AHLTV.