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The French Connection

Welcome to Wolves Insider, presented by Are You Really Winning?: The weekly report that gives you an inside look at the latest Chicago Wolves news and happenings. Look for a new edition of Wolves Insider each Tuesday.

Hey now, max Lajoie’s an All-Star

Wolves captain Max Lajoie doesn’t get many opportunities to speak French when out and about in the Chicago area.

The defenseman will have plenty of chances to do so when he participates in the 2023 AHL All-Star Classic to be held Feb. 5-6 in Laval, Quebec. Lajoie, who hails from Quebec City, Quebec, was named to the Central Division squad Wednesday, marking his first All-Star appearance.

“It feels awesome,” Lajoie said of being named an All-Star. “It’s a huge honor to represent this team.”

It is the latest accolade for Lajoie after being named the 14th captain in franchise history on Nov. 8.

“Already this year with the captaincy and being named an All-Star it’s been a huge honor for me and I’m really proud of myself,” he said.

Lajoie still has members of his family living in Quebec City – about a three-hour drive from Laval – and he spent part of his childhood in Montreal. He’s hoping family can make the trip to watch him play in the All-Star Game as well as participate in the skills competition.

“It will be cool to go back to Quebec and be able to speak French with some people,” Lajoie said. “I still speak French when I speak with my parents so I haven’t lost any of it, really. I’m excited to get to be there and I’ll probably get some poutine and some other French things.”

The AHL All-Stars will be divided into four teams, representing each of the league’s four divisions, which will then compete in the 2023 AHL All-Star Classic, a round-robin, three-on-three tournament including six games of 10 minutes each. The two teams with the best records at the end of the round-robin will then face off in a six-minute, three-on-three championship game.

Players will also be in the skills competition, though Lajoie isn’t yet certain in which activity he’ll compete.

“I don’t know what I’ll do yet,” he said. “Probably anything but Hardest Shot. I don’t think I’ve taken a slap shot in about two years.”

The Great Outdoors

On Wednesday, the Wolves took it outside. The players and coaching staff hit the ice for practice on the outdoor rink at Parkway Bank Park in Rosemont in what ended up being what coach Brock Sheahan called, “an amazing day.”


Mental Health Awareness

Later this month, the Wolves will don commemorative jerseys that will then be auctioned for charities helping those struggling with mental health issues and other related causes.

The defending Calder Cup champions have teamed with Campfire Marshmallows to present the specialty jerseys that Wolves players will wear when they face the Rockford IceHogs on Jan. 28 and the Grand Rapids Griffins on Jan. 29 at Allstate Arena.

One of Wolves forward Brendan Perlini’s Mental Health Awareness jerseys will be available via the Golden Ticket Raffle. There are 50 raffle tickets available for $50 per ticket. This means each ticket has a 1-in-50 chance of being selected. The Golden Ticket Raffle begins Thursday at ChicagoWolvesStore.com/charity.

“A lot of people, myself included, sometimes think that they’re on their own and no one cares about them, but in reality that is so far from the truth – friends and family truly care,” Perlini said. “I think it’s mentally tough to come out and say, ‘I’m not doing well. This is what I’m feeling.’ ”

Golden Raffle tickets will also be available at the games on Jan. 28 and 29, at the Chicago Wolves Charities Table behind Section 105 – if they haven’t already sold-out online. The raffle tickets will be sold on a first-come, first-served basis. The raffle concludes at the end of the second intermission on Sunday, Jan. 29.

Five Mental Health Awareness jerseys will be available via blind auction. The process is easy: Simply bid the highest amount you are willing to pay for a specific jersey and the highest bid submitted for each jersey by 12 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 30 will be the winner. The minimum bid is $250, and no one will know what others are bidding.

Jerseys for forwards Ryan Dzingel, Jack Drury and Mackenzie MacEachern, goaltender Pyotr Kochetkov, as well as mascot Skates will be available in this blind auction. The blind auction can be entered online and at Allstate Arena.

The online portion of the blind auction opens Thursday. To bid in-arena, pick up a blind auction form at the Chicago Wolves Charities Table behind Section 105 at the games on Jan. 28 and 29.

A silent auction will be held for all remaining Mental Health Awareness jerseys, including Wolves legends Bob Nardella, Steve Maltais, Gene Ubriaco and Billy Gardner. The silent auction can be entered online and at Allstate Arena. The online portion of the silent auction opens Thursday and closes Friday, Jan. 27 at noon. Place a bid on your favorite player’s jersey at the Chicago Wolves Charities Table behind Section 105. Bidding in-arena begins on Saturday, Jan. 28 at 6 p.m., and concludes at the end of the second intermission on Sunday, Jan. 29

The Wolves are working with five local mental health awareness-related charities: Alliance of Hope for Suicide Loss Survivors, Canine Therapy Corps, Erika’s Lighthouse, Paws for Patrick and Same Here

Other featured Mental Health Awareness items include Mystery Pucks and limited-edition t-shirts.

For more information on all of the Wolves’ Mental Health Awareness initiatives, go here.

weekly REWIND (0-1-0-0)

Saturday, Jan. 14

Griffins 1, Wolves 0: In the first game of their season-long, six-game road trip, the Wolves fell to Grand Rapids 1-0. Griffins goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic made 27 saves to record the shutout and out-duel Wolves netminder Zachary Sawchenko (19 saves). Cross Hanas scored for Grand Rapids as the Griffins topped the Wolves for the second time in three meetings this season.

First Star of the Week

Zachary Sawchenko

The 25-year-old goaltender was stellar in the Wolves’ 1-0 loss to the Griffins on Saturday night in Grand Rapids, Mich. In his fifth consecutive start, Sawchenko made 19 saves to keep the Wolves in the game. Sawchenko lowered his goals-against average to 3.33 and raised his save percentage to .894 for the season.


big number: .918

On Monday, the Carolina Hurricanes assigned goaltender Pyotr Kochetkov to the Wolves. The netminder went 10-4-5 record with a 2.33 goals-against average, .913 save percentage and three shutouts during his 19-game stint with Carolina.

With the Wolves this season, Kochetkov is 2-2-1 with a 3.00 goals-against average and .911 save percentage in five games. For his Wolves career, Kochetkov has a 15-3-2 record, 2.32 goals-against average and .918 save percentage in 20 appearances.

Where we stand

12-17-3-1, seventh in the Central Division.


Tuesday, Jan. 17 at Manitoba 7 p.m. Hockey For All Centre AHLTV
Wednesday, Jan. 18 at Manitoba 7 p.m. Hockey For All Centre AHLTV
Saturday, Jan. 21 at Rockford 7 p.m. BMO Harris Bank Center AHLTV
Tuesday, Jan. 24 at Tucson 7:30 p.m. Tucson Arena AHLTV
Wednesday, Jan. 25 at Tucson 7:30 p.m. Tucson Arena AHLTV


For information on Wolves ticket plans for the 2022-23 season — everything from single-game tickets to Flex Packs to group outings — visit ChicagoWolves.com or call 1-800-THE-WOLVES.