Welcome to Wolves Insider, presented by Rivers Casino: the weekly report that gives you the latest Chicago Wolves news as the Macgregor Kilpatrick Trophy winners keep advancing in their quest for the organization’s fifth league championship.
MAKING HISTORY RIGHT BEFORE OUR EYES
One of the most beautiful aspects of sports is not being able to know how a play, a game or a season will turn out. It’s why we can’t take — and we don’t want to take — our eyes off the players and the games. We’re eager to witness what happens next.
This is a long way of saying none of us know whether the Chicago Wolves will hoist the Calder Cup at the end of these Calder Cup Playoffs. Because the Wolves are currently in the thick of the fight — carrying a 2-0 lead in the best-of-5 Central Division Finals heading into Game 3 Wednesday night at Milwaukee — this is no time for the players and coaches to pause to contemplate what has happened during the 2021-22 season and what might come to pass.
“When the game’s over, we’ll enjoy it and move on,” said Wolves head coach Ryan Warsofsky shortly after his team’s 8-2 Game 2 victory Sunday over Milwaukee that tied the franchise’s postseason records for goals in a period (5) and a game.
“This time of year, and maybe it’s just who I am, but maybe in the summer we’ll look back at some games (and say), ‘That was pretty cool.’ Obviously the players have done some remarkable things — (Stefan) Noesen, (Andrew) Poturalski, (Alex) Lyon — you can go through the whole roster and look at the development of guys. But we’ll look at that in the summer. But right now we’re focused on one thing — and that’s resting (Monday) and getting ready for practice Tuesday.”
But the rest of us are able to reflect whenever we want. Truth be told, Wolves fans already have been treated to a mile-long list of special moments from a special team. Best of all, we’ve learned to keep our eyes wide open whenever Warsofsky’s team takes the ice. Here are just a few of the records these Wolves have shattered or equaled this season.
- During the regular season, the Wolves set the franchise record for best single-season points percentage (.724) and tied the record for longest winning streak (12 games).
- For the first time in Wolves history — regular season or postseason — the team has won five games in a row by 3 goals or more. Chicago has outscored Rockford and Milwaukee 28-8 while starting this postseason with a 5-0 record.
- If the Wolves win Game 3 Wednesday, they’ll tie the 2000 Turner Cup champions and the 2005 Calder Cup runnerup for the longest winning streak in Wolves postseason history.
- For just the second time in the last 33 AHL seasons, the same team produced the league’s goals leader (Noesen’s 48 goals), the league’s top scorer (Poturalski’s 101 points) and the league’s best goals-against average (which resulted in Lyon winning the Harry “Hap” Holmes Award that goes to a goaltender who played in at least 25 games for the AHL’s best GAA team).
- Noesen’s goals total and Poturalski’s points total were the highest in the AHL since 2010 — when, perhaps, not coincidentally, Hershey’s Keith Aucoin (106 points) and Alexandre Giroux (50 goals) led the Bears to the 2010 Calder Cup championship with 16 wins in just 21 games.
CALDER CUP UPDATE
If the Wolves close out Milwaukee, the they’ll reach the best-of-7 Western Conference Finals against the winner of the Pacific Division Finals that pits top-seeded Stockton vs. third-seeded Colorado. They open their series Monday night.
In the Eastern Conference, third-seeded Laval owns a 1-0 lead over fifth-seeded Rochester in the North Division Finals and second-seeded Springfield leads top-seeded Charlotte 1-0 in the Atlantic Division Finals.
To keep track of all the latest playoff news for the Wolves and the AHL and to purchase Calder Cup Playoff tickets, click here.
Chicago’s veteran goaltender continues to play lights-out night after night. The 29-year-old Baudette, Minnesota, native stopped 63 of 67 shots during Games 1 and 2 against Milwaukee to push his personal winning streak to six games since the regular-season finale April 30. Lyon owns a 5-0 postseason record with a 1.60 goals-against average and .940 save percentage.
The Wolves captain has led the AHL in points each of the last two regular seasons — the fifth player in the AHL’s 86-year history to achieve such a feat — and he has kept rolling in the Calder Cup Playoffs. Poturalski racked up 2 goals and 2 assists in the first two games against Milwaukee to move to a team-high 9 points (3G, 6A) for the Wolves’ first five postseason games.
The American Hockey League’s goal-scoring leader during the regular season delivered the Wolves’ 12th hat trick in postseason history during Sunday’s Game 2 — and he accomplished his second professional hat trick in a 15-minute, 28-second stretch of the second period. Noesen owns a team-high 5 goals along with 2 assists in five postseason games.
SUNDAY, MAY 22: (AT) CHICAGO 8, MILWAUKEE 2
- The Wolves tied the franchise record for goals in a postseason game as they piled up three markers in the first period and five in the second on the way to the Game 2 triumph.
- Forward Stefan Noesen recorded the 12th postseason hat trick in team history while David Gust (2G, A), Andrew Poturalski (G, 2A), CJ Smith (G, 2A) and Josh Leivo (3A) added 3 points each.
- Goaltender Alex Lyon rejected 30 shots to earn his sixth win in a row dating back to April 30.
SATURDAY, MAY 21: (AT) CHICAGO 6, MILWAUKEE 2
- After Milwaukee pulled into a 1-1 tie early in the second period, the Wolves responded with three consecutive goals to trigger the Game 1 runaway at Allstate Arena.
- Rookie center Jack Drury scored two goals while forwards Josh Leivo, Jamieson Rees and Stelio Mattheos added one goal and one assist apiece and Max Lajoie handed out three assists.
- Goaltender Alex Lyon posted 33 saves to earn the win.
THE CENTRAL DIVISION FINALS SCHEDULE AND RESULTS
|Game 1||Saturday, May 21||Allstate Arena||CHI 6, MIL 2|
|Game 2||Sunday, May 22||Allstate Arena||CHI 8, MIL 2|
|Game 3||Wednesday, May 25||Panther Arena||7 p.m.|
|Game 4*||Friday, May 27||Panther Arena||7 p.m.|
|Game 5*||Sunday, May 29||Allstate Arena||3 p.m.||Game 5 (if necessary)|
All games are streamed on AHLTV.