Welcome to Wolves Insider, presented by Rivers Casino: the weekly report that gives you the latest Chicago Wolves news as the organization battles for its fifth division title in the last six years and its fifth league championship overall.
ONLY SEVEN HOME GAMES LEFT BEFORE PLAYOFFS
Hockey always will be known as a winter sport. But Wolves fans know when springtime arrives in Chicago, it’s an especially sweet time to pay attention to this team. March and April are when the rosters are solidified, the playoff berths are clinched and the gameday giveaways are great — all leading up to the pursuit of the league championship in May and June.
The Wolves took care of Step 1 last week when they clinched a spot in the Calder Cup Playoffs. This week, they can clinch a first-round bye and their fifth Central Division title in the last six years. The Wolves also added six players in order to make a talented and deep roster even better. General manager Wendell Young acquired three players at the trade deadline — longtime NHL forward Richard Panik and defensemen Chris Bigras and Tarmo Reunanen — and the team also added three rookies ready to launch their professional careers in NHL second-round picks Noel Gunler and Vasily Ponomarev and undrafted defenseman Griffin Mendel.
Chicago hockey fans have seen this team dominating the division and have been swarming Allstate Arena — and not just for the hockey. There’s more fun in store this weekend as the Wolves wrap up their five-game homestand Saturday night against the second-place Manitoba Moose and Sunday afternoon against the Cleveland Monsters.
On Saturday, the first 1,500 fans to enter Allstate Arena receive a Wolves Goalie Bank Mask courtesy of My50 Chicago. On Sunday, wizards and witches and muggles are invited to participate in the team’s first Wizards Day. To get the exclusive ticket package that features a Wolves wand, click here.
PYOTR THE GREAT
Wolves goaltender Pyotr Kochetkov was named the AHL’s Rookie of the Month for March. The 22-year-old from Russia celebrated by earning a 6-1 win over Milwaukee to improve his record to 9-0-1 with a 1.80 goals-against average and .935 save percentage.
Said Wolves head coach Ryan Warsofsky: “His teammates love him and he fits in really well. He’s done a really good job and we’ve got a really good goalie that I think we’re going to see in the NHL for a really long time.”
HELP SAVE LIVES APRIL 23
There are still appointments available for the Wolves/Vitalant blood drive on Saturday, April 23, at Allstate Arena’s Skyline Room. The Wolves and Vitalant are trying to equal or exceed the incredible support from the previous blood drive on Dec. 18 — when Wolves fans stepped up to donate enough blood to save 402 lives.
Everyone who donates between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. on April 23 receives two tickets to a 2022 Calder Cup Playoff game of their choice, a limited-edition T-shirt, a Wolves hat and have a chance to win an autographed Wolves jersey. To make an appointment, visit Vitalant.org/Wolves and use Code ORD0RS20 or call 877-258-4825.
The big Texan produced two goals Saturday and another one Sunday to regain control of the AHL goal-scoring race. Noesen owns 38 goals for the year, which is three ahead of Abbotsford’s Sheldon Dries. He’s on pace to score 45 goals for the year as he tries to join Steve Maltais, Rob Brown and Brett Sterling as the only Wolves to produce more than 41 goals in one season.
The captain handed out 4 assists in four games last week to keep his share of the AHL’s points lead with 24 goals and 61 assists. His 85 points are the most by a Wolves player since league MVP Jason Krog stacked up 112 for the 2007-08 Calder Cup champions. Poturalski is on pace for 101 points and could be the first AHL player to break the 100-point mark since 2009-10.
During the Wolves’ 6-1 win over Milwaukee Saturday night, Drury delivered a career-high 4 points (G, 3A) along with a career-high +4 plus/minus rating. The Winnetka native moved his season totals to 18 points and 27 assists. His 45 points rank sixth among AHL rookies — and he has eclipsed the 42 points his father, Ted, scored for the Wolves in 2000-01.
- Shortly after the Wolves finished turning a 3-0 deficit into a 3-3 tie, the Stars scored a shorthanded goal and an empty-netter in the final 2:15 to claim their first regulation win over Chicago this year.
- Forward CJ Smith started the comeback with two second-period goals and forward Stefan Noesen scored his league-best 38th goal to knot the game with 3:34 to play.
- Goaltender Jack LaFontaine registered a career-high 34 saves on 38 shots.
- Forward Stefan Noesen scored his league-leading 36th and 37th goals during the opening xx minutes and Jack Drury added a career-high 4 points as the Wolves avenged Friday’s loss at MIL.
- Forwards David Gust, Josh Leivo, Drury and Jamieson Rees added goals while Noesen notched 3 points and Kyle Marino earned First Star honors for his tone-setting fight 2:56 into the night.
- Goaltender Pyotr Kochetkov posted 21 saves for his fifth straight win.
- Milwaukee scored twice in a 1:16 span late in the second period to erase the Wolves’ 1-0 lead and set the tone for the win at Panther Arena.
- Rookie forward Jamieson Rees scored 1:35 into the game as Josh Leivo and Jack Drury picked up the assists.
- Goaltender Alex Lyon stopped 21 of 24 shots.
- Forwards Josh Leivo and CJ Smith scored 19 seconds apart early in the third period to erase a 2-1 deficit and clinch a Calder Cup Playoff berth.
- Defenseman Tarmo Reunanen scored 62 seconds into his Wolves debut, Leivo added an empty-net goal in the final minute and Ryan Suzuki contributed two assists.
- Goaltender Pyotr Kochetkov posted 27 saves for his fourth straight win.
NEXT FIVE GAMES
|Wednesday, April 6||vs. Texas||11 a.m.||Allstate Arena||AHLTV|
|Saturday, April 9||vs. Manitoba||7 p.m.||Allstate Arena||My50|
|Sunday, April 10||vs. Cleveland||3 p.m.||Allstate Arena||My50|
|Wednesday, April 13||at Texas||7 p.m.||H-E-B Center||AHLTV|
|Friday, April 15||at Texas||7 p.m.||H-E-B Center||AHLTV|
All games are streamed on AHLTV.