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FANTASTIC FINN

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.

ANTTI RAANTA TAKES THE NET

Wolves goaltending received a boost when NHL veteran Antti Raanta was assigned to the team from the Carolina Hurricanes on Sunday.

Raanta arrived in Chicago on Monday and started—and won—Tuesday’s game against the Manitoba Moose at Allstate Arena.

The 34-year-old from Rauma, Finland, has played in 267 NHL games with the Blackhawks, Rangers, Coyotes and Hurricanes during his career. This season, he was 6-5-1 with a 3.61 goals-against average and .854 save percentage with Carolina before being placed on waivers and eventually assigned to the Wolves.

“I knew that I hadn’t been playing well enough,” Raanta said. “It’s tough for a goalie when you have all the answers but you just can’t get the results and soft goals go in.

“It’s always a shock when you get put on waivers and you start thinking about where you are in your career. But I don’t feel like I’m done playing—not even close so that wasn’t even an option.”

Despite the whirlwind of traveling from Raleigh, N.C. to Chicago and being inserted right into the lineup, Raanta was solid against the Moose. He finished with 18 saves in helping the Wolves win their third consecutive game.

“(Tuesday) was a good step forward and now it’s all about the consistency level and having the right mindset going though different things in the game and in your life,” Raanta said. “I’m just hoping to come here and play a couple of games hopefully and get good results and get that enjoyment back.

“There are always bumps in the road, you just have to fight through those,” Raanta continued. “Maybe this is part of my journey right now to come here and meet these guys and play with them for a little bit and see what happens next.”

JOHN ANDERSON LENDS A HAND

A legendary figure is back behind the Wolves bench.

John Anderson, who is the Wolves’ all-time coaching leader in regular-season wins (371) and postseason victories (80) and the man who guided the team to four league championships (1998, 2000, 2002 and 2008) has joined the Wolves as an assistant on a temporary basis.

“I’m really happy, this is fun for me,” Anderson, 66, said. “This is one of the best organizations in hockey. It’s a young man’s coaching game now but if I can help in any way here because of everything the Wolves have done for me, I will.

“The players have treated me great,” Anderson added. “I’ll do whatever they need me to do and I’ll try not screw it up too bad.”

Anderson is serving as an assistant to Dave Barr and since joining the coaching staff, the Wolves have reeled off a four-game points streak, including victories in their previous three contests.

“John has agreed to temporarily come in and help the Chicago Wolves organization that he was such a big part of for so many years,” Wolves general manager Wendell Young said. “We always say, ‘once a Wolf, always a Wolf.’ ”

When asked about his fondest memory of his time as Wolves head coach, Anderson said, “Every championship. Each one was a little different but they were all special.”

IMPACT PLAY OF THE WEEK

Nathan Sucese made this terrific individual effort to score the game-winner in overtime to lift the Wolves to a 4-3 victory over the Rockford IceHogs on Sunday at Allstate Arena.

REPUBLIC BANK SAVE OF THE WEEK

In his debut with the Wolves on Tuesday against Manitoba, goaltender Antti Raanta was tested early and came up big with this stop on the Moose’s Jeff Malott.

C.D.E. COLLISION CENTERS’ COLLISION OF THE WEEK

During Tuesday’s game, the Wolves’ Kyle Marino and the Moose’s Tyrel Bauer collided on the ice and then dropped the gloves to exchange a flurry of punches.

 

REVEALING MOMENT

Rocco Grimaldi made one of the most important shots of his life following Friday’s practice at Allstate Arena.

The Wolves forward and his wife, Abby, held a gender reveal for the couple’s first child due in late-March.

Grimaldi wound up and unleashed a slap shot on a puck that exploded in a puff of blue, indicating a baby boy is in the couple’s future.

“I was definitely nervous that, one, I was going to fall because I was on shoes on the ice and then, two, that I was going to miss the puck or that it wasn’t going to break,” Rocco Grimaldi said. “Everything went perfectly so that was good.”

Grimaldi said the idea to hold the reveal on the ice with family members as well as Wolves teammates watching nearby was a mutual one with him and his wife.

“We’d seen guys do it in the past and always liked it,” Grimaldi said. “I didn’t fall and that’s all that matters.

“We’re honestly shocked that it’s a boy—we both thought the whole time that it was going to be a girl,” he added.

Weekly rewind (3-0-0-0)

SATURDAY, DEC. 16

Wolves 6, Stars 2: Rocco Grimaldi and Vasily Ponomarev each scored two goals, Matt Donovan had a goal and three assists and Nathan Sucese a goal and an assist to help the Wolves snap a three-game losing skid.

SUNDAY, DEC. 17

Wolves 4, IceHogs 3 (OT): Nathan Sucese had two goals—including the game-winner in overtime—while Griffin Mendel and Max Comtois also scored as the Wolves extended their points streak to three games.

TUESDAY, DEC. 19

Wolves 6, Moose 3: Nathan Sucese had three goals, Rocco Grimaldi, Tyson Feist and Chris Terry also scored and Antti Raanta earned the win in his Wolves debut in net.

First Star of the Week

NATHAN SUCESE, F

The 27-year-old from Fairport, N.Y., had six goals–including a game-winner–and an assist in the three games during the week. For the season, Sucese has 11 goals and six assists in 24 contests.

Where we stand

8-13-1-2, seventh in the Central Division.

UPCOMING SCHEDULE

Saturday, Dec. 23 vs. Milwaukee 7 p.m. Allstate Arena AHLTV/My50 Chicago
Wednesday, Dec. 27 at Milwaukee 7 p.m. UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena AHLTV
Friday, Dec. 29 vs. Grand Rapids 7 p.m. Allstate Arena AHLTV/My50 Chicago
Saturday, Dec. 30 vs. Cleveland 7 p.m. Allstate Arena AHLTV/My50 Chicago
Tuesday, Jan. 2 vs. Texas 7 p.m. Allstate Arena AHLTV