CLEVELAND MONSTERS (24-29-8-5)
AT CHICAGO WOLVES (43-13-5-5)
Every time the Chicago Wolves have won this year, the same song has been the first to be played in the dressing room to kick-start the postgame celebration: Dua Lipa’s “Levitating.”
Considering the Wolves’ 43 wins are the most in the American Hockey League, that’s a lot of Dula Peep. Also, considering it’s not normal for such a popular song (“Levitating” finished No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot 100 for 2021) to be what hockey players gravitate toward, how the heck did “Levitating” become the Wolves’ anthem? It turns out captain Andrew Poturalski and second-year rookie center Ryan Suzuki are the ones responsible.
“It started as an inside joke,” Suzuki said. “Me and ‘Potsy’ heard it in the room one time and we started singing the song randomly. Then it caught on. I was the deejay at the start of the year — probably a big reason why we were so dominant there (laughs). The first couple games, ‘Levitating’ was hot in the charts that week, so I think that’s why it became our win song.”
“It’s a great song,” Poturalski said. “We both have it as our goal song as well. It puts you in a great mood. But there’s no real story behind it.”
Actually, there is a real story — because every great story has conflict. As successful as the Wolves have been with “Levitating,” veteran forward Stefan Noesen would like to hear something new.
“ ‘Stef’ has been trying to get it changed for, like, two months,” Poturalski said. “He played some Irish folk song that was garbage, but we kind of put a nix on that.”
Noesen hasn’t given up on staging a coup and replacing “Levitating.” When asked how he might accomplish it, the AHL’s leading goal-scorer replied “veteran leadership.”
“It’s getting boring, very boring,” Noesen said. “I hate to say that we’ve won too much, but it’s a good thing to have to change your song (because it’s been played too much).”
PYOTR THE GREAT (AGAIN)
Rookie goaltender Pyotr Kochetkov extended his winning streak to 7 games, raised his save percentage to .935 and dropped his goals-against average to 1.75 with Saturday’s 2-1 overtime win over Manitoba. Where did his performance rank among his 12 games since joining the Wolves Feb. 15?
“Probably top 1 or 2,” said head coach Ryan Warsofsky. “He was sharp. Made some big saves in the first. Could have easily been 2-0 going into the first intermission. You need a good goalie this time of year — and he’s been everything as advertised, really.”
we are the wolves
Stefan Noesen has produced 33 goals in his last 40 games, including two in the Wolves’ first three games against the Cleveland Monsters. With his next marker, he will become just the sixth player in the Wolves’ 28-year history to score 40 goals in a season. There have been 10 40-goal-plus seasons in Wolves annals thanks to Steve Maltais, who scored at least 44 in each of his first six years. Here’s a look at how many games it took each guy to get to 40 (Note: Noesen has played 61 games this year):
LAST TWO GAMES
- Defenseman Jesper Sellgren scored 46 seconds into overtime — set up by Andrew Poturalski and Stefan Noesen — to give the Wolves the win and cut their Central Division magic number to 5.
- Forward Spencer Smallman produced a short-handed goal four minutes into the third — set up by Vasily Ponomarev and Jalen Chatfield — to break a scoreless tie.
- Goaltender Pyotr Kochetkov posted 27 saves to seize his seventh straight win.
- Forward CJ Smith scored two goals for the second game in a row as the Wolves recovered from an early deficit to clinch a first-round bye in the Calder Cup Playoffs.
- Forwards David Gust scored Chicago’s first goal while Stefan Noesen’s league-leading 39th goal wound up being his 10th game-winner of the year — tying the Wolves’ single-season record.
- Goaltender Pyotr Kochetkov stopped 16 shots to earn his sixth straight win.
By the numbers
2.52: The Wolves stand atop the American Hockey League at 2.52 goals allowed per game with the Pacific Division-leading Stockton Heat (2.61) their closest pursuers. If the Wolves can maintain their spot at the top of the GAA charts, it would mark the first time in franchise history to lead the league in fewest goals allowed. Prior to this, the closest Chicago came was a third-place finish in 2018-19 with 2.62 goals allowed per game. That’s not to be confused with the team record for fewest goals allowed per game — set in 2013-14 when Goaltender of the Year Jake Allen and backup Matt Climie led the team to a 2.51 per-game mark.
8.23: For the first time in months, the Wolves don’t lead the AHL in either Shots For or Shots Against. Not only did the Wolves post a season-low 16 shots Saturday against Manitoba — 6 fewer than their previous low — the Colorado Eagles fired 41 shots versus Bakersfield. Now Colorado owns the Shots For lead (34.21) and the Wolves stand at 34.15 per game. Meanwhile, Manitoba dropped its Shots Against average to 25.62 while the Wolves are at 25.92. Perhaps the Wolves, who still own the league’s best differential at 8.23 per game, won’t become the first AHL team since the 2007-08 Providence Bruins to lead the league in both categories.
24: The Wolves already have clinched a first-round bye and their Central Division magic number sits at 5, but their magic number to own home-ice advantage throughout the playoffs stands at 24 with 10 games left. The Stockton Heat are the only team with a better chance. The Heat’s magic number sits at 15 with nine games left.
39: Wolves forward Stefan Noesen owns an AHL-leading 39 goals, four ahead of Abbotsford’s Sheldon Dries. When he scores his next goal, he’ll become the first AHL player in 11 seasons to reach the 40-goal mark. Oklahoma City’s Colin McDonald scored 42 and Wolves/Hamilton forward Nigel Dawes scored 41 in 2010-11. Noesen also leads the AHL in game-winning goals (10) and first goals (8). With his next GWG, he’ll break the organization’s single-season record he shares with Chris Marinucci (1998-99), Brett Sterling (2007-08), Mark Mancari (2011-12) and Shane Harper (2014-15).
86: When Wolves captain Andrew Poturalski set up Jesper Sellgren’s game-winning overtime goal Saturday night, he regained a share of the AHL scoring lead alongside Ontario’s T.J. Tynan. They’re both at 86 points, but the Wolves have 10 games remaining and the Reign have eight. If Poturalski outduels Tynan down the stretch, then he’ll become the first player since Philadelphia’s Peter White in 1997-98 to win back-to-back AHL scoring titles. Poturalski is on pace for 99.87 points this season as he and Tynan are threatening to become the first AHL players to reach the 100-point mark since Hershey’s Keith Aucoin and Alexandre Giroux scored 106 and 103 points, respectively, during the 2009-10 season.
249: Orland Park native David Gust is slated to play his 250th professional game today — all of them in the AHL. Gust owns 60 goals and 67 assists in his first 249 games, which includes a career-high 35 points this season (16G, 19A). He needs just three goals to set a personal-best in that category and two assists to do the same in that regard.
422: Since the Wolves played their first game on Oct. 1, 1994, a total of 727 players have suited up for Chicago. Veteran Richard Panik and rookies Noel Gunler and Vasily Ponomarev joined the club Wednesday — and Panik became the 422nd player to boast NHL and Wolves experience. Put another way, 58 percent of all Wolves have suited up in the greatest league in the world.
NEXT FIVE GAMES
|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|
|Saturday, April 16||at Texas||7 p.m.||H-E-B Center||AHLTV|
|Tuesday, April 19||vs. Rockford||7 p.m.||Allstate Arena||My50|
|Friday, April 22||at Grand Rapids||6 p.m.||Van Andel Arena||AHLTV|
All games are streamed on AHLTV.