Roughly 30 minutes after the Chicago Wolves wrapped up the Western Conference Finals with a 3-0 victory in Game 6 Tuesday night at Allstate Arena, head coach Ryan Warsofsky took a moment to sum up what the Wolves are all about.
“When I took this job, when we moved from Charlotte to Chicago (in 2020), I knew how much winning was part of this organization,” Warsofsky said. “How much it means. The history. All the championships. Not to be selfish, but I wanted to be a part of it.
“I saw it on the other side a little bit (as an assistant with Charlotte), but (the Wolves) have arguably the biggest history of minor-league hockey when it comes to winning championships. Why wouldn’t you want to coach here? Why wouldn’t you want to play here? And I think you walk into our practice rink, you walk into our arena here, and you see the banners and you see the pictures. There’s no better feeling in the world than winning a championship. And I think we have a group in there that really has a big goal — and that’s one of them.”
The Wolves took one big step closer to that goal with Tuesday’s win, but defeating Stockton was in no way easy. Here’s a glimpse into how the Wolves prepared for the Game 6 battle with the Heat.
And Stockton didn’t give the Wolves an inch throughout Game 6. Heat goaltender Dustin Wolf made several remarkable saves to keep the Wolves at bay. At the other end of the ice, Wolves rookie Pyotr Kochetkov cut off every angle and made every play.
Finally, with 8:35 gone in the third period, rookie forward Ivan Lodnia cracked Wolf with a one-timer from close range. And when captain Andrew Poturalski beat Wolf top-shelf with 1:20 to play, Wolves fans finally were able to exhale and recognize the team was on its way to the eighth finals appearance in the organization’s 28-year history.
Kochetkov, who came over from Russia in February, finished with 28 saves and earned his first shutout in North America — as well as the team’s Player of the Game award as noted by the awarding of the Golden Helmet. Then the boys cranked up “Levitating” by Dua Lipa and “Danger Zone” by Kenny Loggins and celebrated, for a brief while, being the best in the West.
Here’s a glimpse into the locker room after the 3-0 victory: