TEXAS STARS (18-19-5-4)
AT CHICAGO WOLVES (30-10-4-4)
LODNIA’s MIND 5,000 MILES AWAY
Chicago Wolves rookie forward Ivan Lodnia was born in southern California. But his father, Konstantin, was born in Kyiv, Ukraine, and became a professional hockey player in his home country. His mother, Irina, was born in Kyiv. His older sister, Masha, was born in Kyiv.
Though Ivan’s family gave up everything to start a new life in Los Angeles in 1996 — three years before he was born — several members of his extended family remain in Ukraine. You can imagine what he has been thinking and feeling since Russia pushed into Ukraine one week ago.
“My uncle just joined the Army there,” Ivan said. “My aunt, we tried to get her here, but it didn’t work out. So she’s in hiding. My other uncle, he fled. Usually, if you went to Poland, it would take a four-and-a-half or a five-hour drive. It took my uncle 25 hours because there was that much traffic.”
For the last week, including the Wolves’ trip to Winnipeg over the weekend, Lodnia’s time has been spent following every shred of news from Ukraine — so he appreciates every practice and game that allows his brain to focus on something else for an hour or two.
“I’m (focused) on the news 24/7,” he said. “Come back from morning meetings, sit down, watch it. Take a nap, wake up, watch it. Twitter, always keeping up with it. On the phone with my parents every day. I’m trying to do the best I can to help.”
Lodnia talked about this for one reason: To remind everyone these are real people whose lives are at stake — and to raise awareness to encourage everyone to help Ukrainians. On his Twitter account (@ivan_lodnia), he’s asking for donations of humanitarian aid to novaukraine.org. Meanwhile, he also asked Wolves equipment manager Ryan Shoufer to paint the upper yellow stripe on the upper half of his skates in blue — so the outside of his skates will look like Ukraine’s flag.
The 22-year-old Lodnia had one bigger thought as well: “It doesn’t matter what country it is or what city it is: it’s war. There are kids my age with guns and dying. If it wasn’t for my dad (moving the family), I’d be there, too, right now. Sometimes we don’t realize how lucky we are. If we can do something, we should. I feel like it doesn’t matter what country it is, there shouldn’t be a war at all. What’s yours is yours. You don’t need to have a war about it and try to take somebody else’s stuff.”
TWO WOLVES HIT THE BIG 2-0-0
Tonight’s game marks the 200th American Hockey League appearance for forward Josh Leivo and defenseman Cavan Fitzgerald.
The 28-year-old Leivo has racked up 61 goals and 89 assists in his first 199 AHL games — all of which have been played for the Toronto Marlies except this year’s 10 goals and 16 assists in 28 games for the Wolves. The 25-year-old Fitzgerald owns 19 goals and 37 assists in his first 199 games, which features 6 goals, 12 assists and a +36 plus/minus rating in 62 games over the last two seasons with the Wolves.
we are the wolves
We’re not predicting the Wolves goaltender will author a shutout tonight, but history suggests we shouldn’t be surprised if it happens.
Exactly four years ago today (March 2, 2018), Oscar Dansk stopped all 28 shots he faced to lead the Wolves to a 3-0 win at San Antonio.
Exactly four years before that (March 2, 2014), Jake Allen stopped all 29 shots he faced to lead the Wolves to a 4-0 home win vs. Iowa.
Almost exactly four years before that (March 3, 2010), Drew McIntyre made 19 saves in a 3-0 win at Toronto.
LAST TWO GAMES
- After Josh Leivo’s overtime goal was overturned, Manitoba outscored the Wolves 2-1 in a four-round shootout to claim the extra point at Canada Life Centre.
- Forwards CJ Smith and Maxim Letunov and defenseman Josh Jacobs scored in the first period to stake Chicago to a 3-1 lead.
- Goaltender Jack LaFontaine recorded a career-high 31 saves in regulation and overtime.
- Forwards Jack Drury and Josh Leivo scored two goals apiece as the Wolves raced to a 3-0 lead early in the second period and cruised to the win over the second-place Moose.
- Defenseman Cavan Fitzgerald opened the scoring while four Wolves notched two assists: Forwards David Gust and Andrew Poturalski and defensemen Josh Jacobs and Max Lajoie.
- Goaltender Alex Lyon rejected 25 shots to pick up his second straight win.
By the numbers
2.58: The Wolves lead the American Hockey League with 2.58 goals allowed per game. If they can maintain this status, it would mark the first time in franchise history that they pace their league in fewest goals allowed. The closest Chicago has come was a third-place finish in 2018-19 with 2.62 per game. The team record for fewest goals allowed per game was set in 2013-14, when AHL Goaltender of the Year Jake Allen and primary backup Matt Climie led the team to a 2.51 per game mark.
8: Along these lines, the Wolves have moved to the top of the AHL Goals Against chart while also climbing to the top of the Most Goaltenders Used chart. Due to injuries and illnesses at the NHL and AHL levels, the Wolves have needed to use a franchise-record eight goaltenders so far this season: Alex Lyon (23 games), Eetu Makiniemi (14 games), Jack LaFontaine (7 games), Daniel Mannella (3 games), Michael Lackey (2 games), Pyotr Kochetkov, 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. 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.
9.66: The Wolves are gunning to become the first AHL team since the 2007-08 Providence Bruins to lead the league in Shots For (35.08) and Shots Against (25.42) in the same season. Their shots differential per game (9.66) 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 averages the rest of the season, they will break the single-season franchise records for Shots For (34.69) and Shots Against (27.93).
10: Rookie center Jack Drury has produced 10 points (3G, 7A) during his active eight-game point streak that shares the lead for the Wolves’ longest point streak of the season. Captain Andrew Poturalski just saw his eight-game streak come to a close after racking up 2 goals and 13 assists from Feb. 5-26. Veteran forward Stefan Noesen, who joins Abbotsford’s Sheldon Dries atop the AHL’s goal-scoring charts with 28 tallies, put together a seven-game point streak from Feb. 5-20 that features 7 goals and 3 assists.
66: Wolves captain Andrew Poturalski has a chance 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 owns 66 points (22G, 44A) in 45 games, which puts him on track to score 107 points and become the first AHL player to eclipse the 100-point barrier since 2010. The only player in the same area code is former Wolves standout T.J. Tynan, the Orland Park native who has produced 63 points (11G, 52A). Poturalski, by the way, is a pretty good bellwether of how things will go for the Wolves in a given game. He owns 53 points (18G, 35A) in 27 wins, but 13 points (4G, 9A) in 18 losses.
418: Since the Wolves played their first game on Oct. 1, 1994, a total of 721 players have suited up for Chicago. Goaltender Pyotr Kochetkov became No. 721 when he made his North American debut with a win over Iowa on Feb. 19, 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, March 5||vs. Texas||7 p.m.||Allstate Arena||My50|
|Sunday, March 6||vs. Iowa||3 p.m.||Allstate Arena||My50|
|Wednesday, March 9||at Grand Rapids||6 p.m.||Van Andel Arena||AHLTV|
|Saturday, March 12||at Milwaukee||6 p.m.||Panther Arena||AHLTV|
|Sunday, March 13||vs. Grand Rapids||3 p.m.||Allstate Arena||My50|
All games are streamed on AHLTV.