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 week.
A TEAM EFFORT
With no fanfare, Nathan Sucese recently placed a sheet of paper in the Wolves dressing room with spaces for players and team personnel to sign up to purchase and donate toys and essentials for children in need.
“I just put a sign-up sheet out in the room and whether I got three people to participate or the whole team, it was going to be worth it,” said Sucese, who is in his second season with the Wolves. “And we got 100 percent participation.”
Along with his fiancé, Caroline, Sucese worked with Wolves President of Operations Courtney Mahoney to connect with “Facing Forward … to end homelessness,” a program that partners with families and individuals in Chicago who are at risk of or experiencing homelessness.
“It’s a way for all of us who wanted to give back,” Sucese, 27, said. “As a kid growing up, opening presents was a big thrill so this is a way to give homeless kids who may not have that opportunity to have a couple of gifts to open.
“Some kids were asking for a toothbrush and toothpaste, as simple as that,” Sucese continued. “Some are getting toys, some are getting bedding—it’s all over the map. It’s something I’m really passionate about and I’m happy it was a group effort to get this done.”
Players and team personnel did their own shopping and were given a spending limit—though that part was ignored.
“There was a price limit on it but I’m sure everyone here went over it because everyone loved the idea,” Sucese said. “Sometimes you’re so focused on wins and losses on the ice that you get into a pattern and you don’t really think about the outside world and what people are going through out there. This is a way to give something back to the community.”
MELNICK FINALLY CASHES IN
After 15 games went by this season without Josh Melnick scoring a goal, Wolves coaches had a directive for the veteran forward.
“I was challenged by some of the coaches to get to the dirty areas a bit more,” Melnick said. “I went there and good things happened.”
The first good thing was Melnick notching his first goal of the season during Saturday night’s game against the San Diego Gulls at Allstate Arena. Not coincidentally, the score came off a scramble in front of the Gulls net.
Melnick then followed that up with another goal during Sunday’s 5-3 victory over San Diego and suddenly the Annandale, N.J., native has a goals streak going.
“It was just one of those stretches,” Melnick said. “Some games you don’t get too many chances and other times you do and they just don’t go in for you. It’s important not to panic and realize that you just to have to keep working and they’ll eventually go in.”
Melnick, who set career highs with 16 goals and a 19.0 shooting percentage in 71 games last season, said he remained confident during the dry spell.
“If you’re not getting chances to score, I think that’s when you need to kind of step back and reassess your game,” he said. “But if you’re getting chances and they aren’t going in you just have to bear down a little harder and eventually they will.
“It definitely felt good to pop one,” Melnick added. “Hopefully, it’s a good thing for me and hopefully we keep rolling as a team.”
IMPACT PLAY OF THE WEEK
With the score knotted at 2-2 during Sunday’s game at Allstate Arena, Max Comtois scored this beauty off a terrific feed from Chris Terry to give the Wolves a lead they didn’t relinquish en route to a 5-3 victory.
REPUBLIC BANK SAVE OF THE WEEK
Wolves veteran netminder Keith Kinkaid made this highlight-reel stop on the San Diego Gulls’ Travis Howe on Saturday night at Allstate Arena.
C.D.E. COLLISION CENTERS’ COLLISION OF THE WEEK
During Saturday night’s game against San Diego at Allstate Arena, Wolves forward Rocco Grimaldi introduced himself to the Gulls’ Josh Lopina.
Weekly rewind (1-2-0-0)
WEDNESDAY, NOV. 29
Griffins 4, Wolves 0: The Wolves weren’t able to solve Griffins goaltender Michael Hutchinson and fell at Van Andel Arena. Hutchinson made 32 saves to record the shutout and Zach Aston-Reese had two goals for Grand Rapids.
SATURDAY, DEC. 2
Gulls 4, Wolves 1: Josh Melnick scored for the Wolves but the Gulls skated to the win in their first regular-season game in the Chicago area since the 2017-18 campaign.
SUNDAY, DEC. 3
Wolves 5, Gulls 3: Max Comtois and Cole Schneider each had two goals while Josh Melnick added a goal and an assist to propel the Wolves.
First Star of the Week
Where we stand
5-11-1-1, seventh in the Central Division.
|Friday, Dec. 8
|H-E-B Center at Cedar Park
|Saturday, Dec. 9
|H-E-B Center at Cedar Park
|Tuesday, Dec. 12
|Wells Fargo Arena
|Saturday, Dec. 16
|Sunday, Dec. 17
HELP SAVE LIVES
The drive will take place from 9 a.m.-6 p.m. in the Allstate Arena Skyline Room prior to the Wolves’ game against the Texas Stars, giving fans the perfect opportunity to help their community before enjoying an evening of exciting hockey.
All donors will receive two complimentary tickets to a future Wolves game during the 2023-24 season, a limited-edition Vitalant/Chicago Wolves T-shirt and a Wolves hat as well as being entered into a drawing to win an autographed Wolves jersey.
Learn more and schedule an appointment at vitalant.org/wolves.
For information on Wolves ticket plans for the 2023-24 season — everything from single-game tickets to Flex Packs to group outings — visit ChicagoWolves.com or call 1-800-THE-WOLVES.