Welcome to Wolves Insider, presented by Rivers Casino: the weekly report that gives you the latest Chicago Wolves news as head coach Ryan Warsofsky’s team needs just three wins to claim the organization’s fifth league championship.
AND THEY TOOK THAT PERSONaLLY
When the Chicago Wolves dropped Game 1 of the Calder Cup Finals in overtime Sunday afternoon, they didn’t get discouraged. Instead, they drew inspiration from a Michael Jordan clip featured in “The Last Dance.”
According to John Dietz’ story in Tuesday’s Daily Herald, defenseman Jalen Chatfield texted the clip to the team’s group chat after the Game 1 loss. The brief video shows Jordan — one day after the 1998 Bulls suffered an unexpected home playoff loss to the Charlotte Hornets — calmly gripping a baseball bat and chewing on a cigar while sitting in his locker-room cubicle with teammate Ron Harper nearby.
Someone asks Jordan, “Are you pissed off about last night?”
Jordan, while taking slow, measured swings: “Uh-uh. Why? You think I should be? So what? We lost one game.”
Harper adds: “He don’t care.”
Jordan: “Oh, it’ll be a dogfight tomorrow.”
The Bulls proceeded to beat the Hornets by 19 in Game 3 on Charlotte’s home floor, then added two wins to close out that series on the way to their sixth world championship in eight years.
“We got a lot of ‘likes’ in the group chat,” Wolves captain Andrew Poturalski told the Daily Herald. “Everybody loved it. It just showed the mindset he had and that he wasn’t worried at all. That’s how we felt. We were a good team for a reason all year and we just had to get back to doing those things.”
Thus emboldened to shrug off the Game 1 loss, the Wolves took the fight to the Springfield Thunderbirds from Game 2’s opening faceoff Monday night. Chicago scored two goals in the opening 2:11, added two more before 11 minutes had elapsed and dominated throughout the 6-2 victory.
CALDER CUP UPDATE
The Chicago Wolves flew to Hartford Tuesday afternoon and then bused to Springfield, Massachusetts, to prepare for Games 3, 4 and 5. The Thunderbirds like to refer to MassMutual Center as the Thunderdome and they have posted a 6-2 record on their home ice during this postseason. The Wolves, meanwhile, are 3-3 away from Allstate Arena. For complete coverage, subscribe to all of the Wolves’ social media channels and stay tuned to ChicagoWolves.com.
With two goals in Game 2 Monday night, Leivo tied and then broke the Wolves record for most goals in a postseason. Leivo, who owns an AHL-leading 13 goals in just 15 games, took the spot in the record book that used to be shared by Scott Pearson (1998), Steve Larouche (2001), Steve Maltais (2002), Jason Krog (2008) and Darren Haydar (2008).
The AHL’s leading goal-scorer during the regular season transformed into a distributor during Game 2 Monday night and wound up earning a spot in the Wolves’ record book. He handed out four assists in the opening 26 minutes to become the fifth player in Wolves postseason history to post 4 assists in one game. The last to do so was Darren Haydar on May 4, 2007.
Not to be outdone by his linemate, the Wolves captain (and regular-season points champion) produced 1 goal and 3 assists Monday night to join Noesen in the record books as they became the 10th and 11th players in Wolves annals to score 4 points in a playoff game. The last to accomplish the feat was Jason Krog (3G, A) in the Calder Cup clincher on June 10, 2008.
MONDAY, JUNE 20: (AT) CHICAGO 6, SPRINGFIELD 2
- The Wolves pounced from the start with 2 goals in the opening 2:11 and a 4-0 lead in the first 10:12 to roll to the Game 2 victory and square the series at one win apiece.
- Josh Leivo scored twice while Richard Panik, Spencer Smallman, Joey Keane and Andrew Poturalski also scored and Stefan Noesen tied the team’s postseason record with 4 assists.
- Goaltender Pyotr Kochetkov stopped 22 shots to earn the win.
SUNDAY, JUNE 19: SPRINGFIELD 5, (AT) CHICAGO 4 (OT)
- The Wolves held a 4-2 lead 29 seconds into the third period, but Springfield rookie defenseman Matthew Kessel capped a rally with the Game 1-winning goal 5:09 into overtime.
- Forwards Jack Drury, Richard Panik, David Gust and Stefan Noesen scored goals while Josh Leivo (2 assists) joined Drury and Noesen with 2 points apiece.
- Goaltender Alex Lyon posted 30 saves.
TUESDAY, JUNE 14: (AT) CHICAGO 3, STOCKTON 0
- After 48 minutes, 35 seconds of intense, scoreless hockey, rookie forward Ivan Lodnia scored the opening goal to spark the Wolves to the Game 6 win that capped the Western Conference Finals.
- Linemates Spencer Smallman and Jamieson Rees set up Lodnia’s game-winner, then captain Andrew Poturalski added a breakaway and Josh Leivo an empty-netter in the final 80 seconds.
- Goaltender Pyotr Kochetkov rejected 28 shots to earn his first shutout in North America.
WESTERN CONFERENCE FINALS SCHEDULE
|Game 1||Sunday, June 19||Allstate Arena||3 p.m.||SPR 5, CHI 4 (OT)|
|Game 2||Monday, June 20||Allstate Arena||7 p.m.||CHI 6, STK 2|
|Game 3||Wednesday, June 22||MassMutual Center||6 p.m.|
|Game 4||Friday, June 24||MassMutual Center||6 p.m.|
|Game 5||Saturday, June 25||MassMutual Center||6 p.m.|
|Game 6*||Tuesday, June 28||Allstate Arena||7 p.m.||Game 6 tickets|
|Game 7*||Wednesday, June 29||Allstate Arena||7 p.m.||Game 7 tickets|
All games are streamed on AHLTV.