TEXAS STARS (18-20-5-5)
AT CHICAGO WOLVES (31-10-4-4)
DRURY’S HEATING UP
There are several terrific rookies in the American Hockey League’s Central Division. Iowa center Marco Rossi (41 points) leads his team in scoring. Rockford forward Lukas Reichel (35 points) leads his team in scoring. Grand Rapids forward Jonatan Berggren (36 points) ranks second on his team in scoring.
But pound-for-pound, Chicago Wolves center Jack Drury has been developing just as rapidly as any rookie in the division — if not the league. The 22-year-old from Winnetka ranks fourth on the Wolves in goals (13) and points (33) in 45 games.
Drury also ranks among the hottest players in the league as he carries a nine-game point streak into tonight’s clash with the Texas Stars. That’s the longest streak for the Wolves this season and ties Toronto Marlies defenseman Joseph Duszak for the longest active streak in the AHL.
During his nine-game spree that began Feb. 8, Drury has racked up 4 goals, 7 assists and a +8 plus/minus rating. He also has earned the Wolves’ game-winning goal in each of their last two victories (Feb. 26 at Manitoba and Wednesday vs. Texas).
“He’s been our motor the last three games,” said Wolves head coach Ryan Warsofsky. “He has set the tone for how we want to play. He’s a winner through and through. I can’t say enough good things.”
And Drury can’t seem to say enough good things about his teammates.
“Since Christmas, playing with ‘Gusty’ (David Gust), we’ve developed some chemistry there,” Drury said. “Any time you’re playing with good players, it helps. Our line with ‘Cotts’ (David Cotton) has been going good lately. Certainly, working with Sergei Samsanov, the (Carolina Hurricanes) skills coach, and practicing with ‘Warzy,’ Patty (Dwyer) and ‘Nards’ (Bob Nardella) after practice, I think a lot of that work early in the year is starting to pay off.”
ANOTHER ROOKIE ON THE RISE
Center Ryan Suzuki was picked in the first round of the 2019 NHL Entry Draft. Because COVID-19 shuttered the Ontario Hockey League last season, Suzuki got to start his professional career a year early and he produced 5 goals and 5 assists in 26 games for the Wolves as a 19-year-old in 2021.
That sparked high expectations for this year, but injuries and illness kept Suzuki out for three months. He has delivered 3 goals in the last 10 games, though, including a remarkable go-ahead goal Wednesday when he swatted home a rebound off a short hop that came out to the left faceoff dot.
“That was great awareness just to get it on net because the goalie was moving,” said head coach Ryan Warsofsky. ”Great shot, great skill that he has shown. I thought (Wednesday) was his best game of the year.”
we are the wolves
The first 2,500 fans to enter Allstate Arena tonight receive a Wolves Snow Globe, courtesy of Jewel-Osco. Everyone is invited to bring their blades, check them in at the doors and then reclaim them for the free postgame skate, courtesy of Jiffy Lube.
It’s also our next-to-last Adopt-A-Dog Night of the season, presented by Premier Veterinary Group, so now’s the time to visit the South Lobby and give a deserving dog a forever home.
Chicago’s very own Steve Dale, who hosts a pair of nationally syndicated radio shows including Steve Dale’s Pet World that’s heard on WGN 720-AM, will be in the South Lobby to support the Adopt-A-Dog program, which has led to 1,547 adoptions over the years.
LAST TWO GAMES
- After Texas set a Wolves opponent’s record by scoring eight seconds into the night, five Wolves scored goals and seven others earned assists as Chicago rallied for the home win.
- Forwards Stefan Noesen, CJ Smith, Ryan Suzuki, Jack Drury and Maxim Letunov scored goals — with Drury’s shorthanded goal at 10:24 of the third holding up as the game-winner.
- Goaltender Pyotr Kochetkov rejected 31 shots to pick up his second straight win.
- 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.
By the numbers
2: Rookie goaltender Pyotr Kochetkov has worn two different numbers in his first two professional games in North America. The 22-year-old Penza, Russia, native donned No. 33 for his debut Feb. 19, then trotted out his preferred No. 52 (the one he wore in Russia) for Wednesday’s 5-3 win over Texas. None of the 69 Wolves goaltenders who preceded Kochetkov have ever worn more than two numbers in their Chicago tenure, but Kochetkov might break that mark in his first three appearances. You see, the Wolves will wear commemorative St. Patrick’s Day jerseys, presented by Jewel-Osco, for their home games on Sunday, March 6, and Sunday, March 13, to help Easterseals and autism awareness. Because the Wolves needed to place their special uniform order long before Kochetkov joined the team, he has been assigned No. 30 for those games.
2.59: The Wolves lead the American Hockey League with 2.59 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.
9.47: The Wolves are gunning to become the first AHL team since the 2007-08 Providence Bruins to lead the league in Shots For (35.06) and Shots Against (25.59) 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. 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). However, the Wolves have not outshot their opponent in any of the last three games. Prior to this streak, the Wolves never had gone more than one straight game without winning the shots battle.
29: With his next goal, right wing Stefan Noesen (who wears No. 23) will become the 23rd player in Wolves history to reach the 30-goal mark in a single season — and just the fifth in the last 10 years. Noesen’s 29 goals are 1 behind Abbotsford’s Sheldon Dries, who scored Friday night to take the lead. Noesen, a 29-year-old from Plano, Texas, has reached that mark in just 44 games. If he scores his 30th goal within the next three games, he’ll become the fastest Wolves player to reach that mark since Brett Sterling needed just 29 games to score 30 in 2006-07.
66: For the first time since Dec. 4, Wolves captain Andrew Poturalski woke up this morning and wasn’t the AHL leader in points. Ontario center T.J. Tynan, the former Wolves standout who hails from Orland Park, posted two assists Friday night to move into first place with 68 points (11G, 57A). The 28-year-old Poturalski owns 66 points (22G, 44A) in 46 games, but he hasn’t scored in either of the last two games. However, he has yet to go three straight games without a point this season, so he’s a good bet to get on the scoresheet tonight.
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
|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|
|Wednesday, March 16||vs. Milwaukee||7 p.m.||Allstate Arena||My50|
All games are streamed on AHLTV.