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Shea’s Whirlwind

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 every Tuesday.

NEIL Shea SETTLES INTO WOLVES’ LINEUP

The last couple of weeks have been quite a whirlwind for Neil Shea.

The 23-year-old from Marshfield, Mass., went from college senior trying to lead his team to an NCAA championship to signing his first professional contract with the Wolves to being inserted right into the lineup.

“It’s a lot of emotions,” said Shea, who signed an amateur tryout contract with the Wolves two days after his Sacred Heart University team was eliminated in the Atlantic Hockey Tournament. “You go from trying to make a deep playoff to your college career ended and then to pro in the next week.”

Helping ease the transition was scoring his first American Hockey League in his first game, March 11 against Rockford.

“It felt awesome,” Shea said. “It was good to just get into game, get into this league and try to get adjusted a bit. The guys in the room are very welcoming so that helped the transition a lot.”

Shea earned his second AHL point when he assisted on Josh Melnick’s goal against the Manitoba Moose on Saturday night. At 6-1, 195 pounds, Shea adds some size and fluid skating to the Wolves lineup.

“I like to get into the forecheck and cause some chaos,” Shea said. “I try to use my speed to open up space for my linemates and be hard on the backcheck. I play a pretty simple North-South game but I can think it, too.”

As far as off the ice, Shea said, “I’m a pretty laidback guy. I play some video games, go golfing, and hang out with my buddies. Nothing too crazy.”

JUST CALL GRIFFIN MENDEL “Ironman”

With a knock on wood to avoid any kind of jinx, one thing to keep an eye on during the stretch run of the season is the number of games played by Wolves defenseman Griffin Mendel.

Mendel is the only Wolves player to appear in all 59 games this season, a reflection of his durability and needed presence on the blue line.

“I’m just being steady and staying healthy,” Mendel said. “It’s all about taking care of my body and hopefully having no injuries.”

He’s also being productive, contributing offense from the backend with six goals and eight assists.

“I’ve been pretty happy with how my game has been going,” Mendel said. “I’m not looked at to be an offensive guy—I just want to be steady defensively. I’m happy with that but it’s still nice to chip in some points.”

IMPACT PLAY OF THE WEEK

With the Wolves trailing the Admirals on Friday night in Milwaukee, they put together a pretty passing play between Max Lajoie, Ryan Suzuki and Jamieson Rees that ended with Rees tying the game with his 12th goal of the season. It was the first of five unanswered goals as the Wolves stormed to a 6-2 victory.

 

REPUBLIC BANK SAVE OF THE WEEK

During Sunday’s game against Manitoba at Allstate Arena, the teams were deadlocked at 2-2 when Wolves goaltender Zachary Sawchenko stoned the Moose’s Tyler Boland to keep it even. On the ensuing rush, Zach Senyshyn scored to put the Wolves out in front in a game in which they earned a crucial point in the standings.

 

Weekly rewind (1-1-0-1)

FRIDAY, MARCH 17

Wolves 6, Admirals 2: Malte Stromwall had two goals and an assist, Nathan Sucese a goal and an assist and Jamieson Rees, Joseph LaBate and Griffin Mendel also scored to lift the Wolves to their 11th win in their last 16 games. Max Lajoie, Vasily Ponomarev and Mackenzie MacEachern each added two assists.

SATURDAY, MARCH 18

Moose 6, Wolves 1: Josh Melnick’s goal was all the offense the Wolves could muster as they fell to the Moose 6-1 in the sixth meeting between the teams this season. Six different Manitoba players scored.

SUNDAY, MARCH 19

Moose 4, Wolves 3 (SO): Josh Melnick, Vasily Ponomarev and Zach Senyshyn each scored to help the defending Calder Cup champion Wolves earn a point.

First Star of the Week

VASILY PONOMAREV, F

The 21-year-old had a goal and two assists over three games last week. The goal was Ponomarev’s first while shorthanded this season and gave him a team-leading 18 goals overall. He also has 17 assists and ranks fourth on the Wolves in scoring with 35 points.

WINE TASTING FUNDRAISER

The Wolves host their annual Wine Tasting Fundraiser on Thursday, March 30, at Harry Caray’s Italian Steakhouse Rosemont.

Fans have the opportunity to sample a variety of wines from Bishops Hill Winery, dine on delicious heavy appetizers and socialize with some of their favorite Wolves players, including Zachary Sawchenko, Mackenzie MacEachern, Max Lajoie, Ryan Dzingel, William Lagesson and Malte Stromwall.

There will be a variety of auction and raffle items for fans to bid on and win, and each fan also receives a FREE Wolves gift at the end of the night. Proceeds benefit Chicago Wolves Charities, driven by Kia. For questions, contact Courtney Mahoney at [email protected]. To register, go here.

Where we stand

26-27-3-3, sixth in the Central Division.

UPCOMING SCHEDULE

Wednesday, March 22 at Grand Rapids 6 p.m. Van Andel Arena AHLTV
Saturday, March 25 at Texas 7 p.m. H-E-B Center AHLTV
Sunday, March 26 at Texas 5 p.m. H-E-B Center AHLTV
Wednesday, March 29 at Grand Rapids 6 p.m. Van Andel Arena AHLTV
Saturday, April 1 vs. Rockford 7 p.m. Allstate Arena AHLTV/My50 Chicago

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.