CHICAGO WOLVES (2-0)
AT MILWAUKEE ADMIRALS (0-2)
THIS JOB’S NOT DONE
Since beginning their 2022 Calder Cup Playoffs journey May 12, the Chicago Wolves have been on a bit of a magic carpet ride. They have won all five of their postseason games over the Rockford IceHogs and the Milwaukee Admirals by a combined score of 28-8. They haven’t trailed since the first period of Game 1 against Rockford, when they scored twice in the final minute to wrest away the momentum.
For the first time in the Wolves’ 28-year history — which spans 2,405 games between the regular season and playoffs — the team has strung together five consecutive wins by 3 goals or more. They’re also one game away from tying the franchise’s record for longest postseason winning streak. If they accomplish that in tonight’s Game 3, then they’ll move on to the best-of-7 Western Conference Finals against either the Stockton Heat or Colorado Eagles.
Yes, these are heady times for the Wolves, but they’re not about to allow any of this helium to swell their skulls. They devoted their Monday to rest and Tuesday to a brief, but focused, practice. Everyone recognizes it’s a whole different thing to face Milwaukee on its home ice, where the Admirals have won the Wolves’ last three visits to Panther Arena.
“(That’s) a good coach over there in Karl (Taylor) and his staff,” said Wolves head coach Ryan Warsofsky. “They do a good job and will get their guys prepared. You can look at the scores, but this has been a closer series than what the scores look like. I know we’ve scored timely goals in the second period, but those scores do not reflect the hockey by any means.”
“There’s so much work still to do,” said Wolves captain Andrew Poturalski. “We’re not really satisfied yet with what we’re doing. Still a lot more work to be done. We know that — and we’ll be ready to go come (Wednesday).”
POSITIVE VIBES ONLY
Hockey players are human beings, too. When there’s positivity flowing through your workplace, it’s a better place to be. The Wolves’ workplaces — their bench and their dressing room — have been wonderful places to be throughout the postseason. Players and coaches alike have marveled about it before and after games.
“The boys have been rolling,” said Wolves captain Andrew Poturalski. “We know we’ve got production from all four lines. The ‘D’ is solid. (Alex) Lyon has been unreal in net. So just complete team efforts. Everyone’s playing hard and playing together and the energy in the room has been unreal.”
“You can go up and down the lineup of guys who have bought in to how we need to play,” said Wolves head coach Ryan Warsofsky. “And understand that positive energy is contagious. If we stick together as a group — no matter what happens — and just keep playing, good things are going to happen.”
- 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 franchise 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.
- 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.
By the numbers
1: For the first time in their 28-year history, the Chicago Wolves led their league in Goals-Against Average with a 2.55 GAA. Though the Wolves had 12 days between the end of their regular season and the start of the postseason, their defense didn’t skip a beat as Chicago owns the third-best postseason GAA as well. Goaltender Alex Lyon has been in net throughout the postseason as the Wolves have surrendered just 8 goals on 131 shots in their first four games. Lyon enters Game 3 today with a 1.60 GAA and .940 save percentage during the 2022 Calder Cup Playoffs and an 11-6-0 record, 1.89 GAA and .940 save percentage to show for his 18 career postseason appearances.
5: The Wolves tied a postseason franchise record Sunday when they scored 5 goals during the second period. The only other time it happened came in Game 3 of the 2008 Calder Cup Finals, when the Wolves lit up Wilkes-Barre/Scranton for 5 second-period goals on the way to a 6-1 victory on the road. The last of those five goals against Milwaukee — Stefan Noesen’s tally at 19:15 — also tied the postseason franchise record for most goals in a game. On April 23, 2004, the Wolves knocked off the Grand Rapids Griffins by an 8-2 count to wrap up a four-game sweep of the 2004 West Division Semifinals.
8: There are eight teams still involved in the chase for the Calder Cup, but two teams could see their race come to an end tonight. In addition to the stakes in tonight’s game in Milwaukee, the third-seeded Laval Rocket have a chance to sweep the fifth-seeded Rochester Americans tonight in North Division Finals action. The Stockton Heat blanked the Colorado Eagles Monday and Tuesday nights in California to take a 2-0 lead in the Pacific Division Finals, which move to Loveland, Colorado, Friday night. In the Atlantic Division, second-seeded Springfield carries a 1-0 lead over top-seeded Charlotte into tonight’s Game 2.
17: Between the Wolves and Admirals, there are 17 players on the Division Finals rosters who played for the Wolves last season when Chicago had partnership deals with Carolina and Nashville. On the Wolves’ side, there’s forwards David Cotton, David Gust, Stelio Mattheos, Jamieson Rees, Spencer Smallman and Ryan Suzuki and defensemen Cavan Fitzgerald, Joey Keane and Max Lajoie. All but Cotton and Suzuki played in the first two games. On the Admirals’ side, there’s forwards Luke Evangelista, Tommy Novak and Cole Smith, defensemen Jeremy Davies, Marc Del Gaizo and Josh Healey and goaltenders Devin Cooley and Connor Ingram. All but Evangelista played in Games 1 and 2 over the weekend.
18: When Stefan Noesen scored three goals in the second period of Game 2 Sunday afternoon, he became the first Wolves player in 18 years to produce a hat trick in the regular season and the playoffs in the same season. Derek MacKenzie, who went on to a long NHL career, was the last Wolves player to accomplish the feat in 2003-04. Simon Gamache accomplished the feat in 2002-03 while Steve Maltais — as you might expect from the franchise’s all-time leader in hat tricks — was the first to make it happen in 2001-02.
423: Since the Wolves played their first game on Oct. 1, 1994, a total of 727 players have suited up for Chicago. When 22-year-old goaltender Pyotr Kochetkov made his NHL debut for the Carolina Hurricanes on April 23, he became the 423rd Wolves player to play in the NHL. That makes 58.2 percent of all Wolves players — and 70 percent of all Wolves goalies (49 of 70).
THE CENTRAL DIVISION FINALS SCHEDULE
|Game 1||Saturday, May 21||Allstate Arena||7 p.m.||CHI 6, MIL 2|
|Game 2||Sunday, May 22||Allstate Arena||3 p.m.||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 TICKETS|
All games are streamed on AHLTV.