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.
rocco grimaldi earns 2024 ahl all-star nod
In a season that is already proving to be something special, Rocco Grimaldi added another highlight Wednesday when he was officially selected to participate in the 2024 AHL All-Star Classic.
Grimaldi is the Wolves’ lone representative for the festivities to be held Feb. 4-5 at Tech CU Arena in San Jose, Calif.
“It’s a special honor,” Grimaldi said. “This is a team game so it’s not just me playing well and getting picked, it’s about the guys I’ve been playing with, specifically the guys I’ve been playing with the last 10 or 12 games. Me, (Nathan) Sucese and (Josh) Melnick have some good chemistry and we’ve really helped each other out. Our power play has been great, too. When you’re playing on good lines and have a good power play, it’s easier to look better.”
The 30-year-old Grimaldi tops the Wolves in scoring (32 points) and goals (19) and is tied for fifth and second in the league in those categories, respectively.
The Anaheim, Calif., native also leads the AHL with eight power-play goals and stands second with 16 power-play points.
Grimaldi, who was informed of the honor during Tuesday’s practice, credited his ability to remain as one of the AHL’s elite players in his 10th professional season to experience.
“I’ve been doing this for a long time,” said Grimaldi, who turned pro during the 2014-15 season with San Antonio and has appeared in 203 NHL games with Florida, Colorado and Nashville and another 392 in the AHL with San Antonio, Portland, Milwaukee, Rockford, San Diego and the Wolves. “The biggest thing that I’ve learned in my pro career is that there are ebbs and flows throughout the season.
“Taking it in 10-game segments really helps,” Grimaldi continued. “You’re going to have good 10-game segments when you’re scoring on every shot and things are bouncing in and then there are 10-game segments where you don’t score at all. That’s just the way it goes. So, it’s not getting frustrated by the lows and not getting too comfortable with the highs.”
After signing with the Wolves as a free agent during the summer, Grimaldi has 19 goals, 13 assists and three game-winning scores in 31 contests.
“I’m just doing what I do best: Competing, being an engine and being hard to play against,” Grimaldi said. “I have good skill and talent but I also use my compete and my work ethic, which I think is probably my best attribute along with my mind.”
The 2024 AHL All-Star Classic presented by Tech CU will include the AHL All-Stars Skills Competition on Sunday, Feb. 4, followed by the AHL Hall of Fame Induction and Awards Ceremony on Monday, Feb. 5 and the 2024 AHL All-Star Challenge later that evening.
Joining Grimaldi on the Central Division squad are Grand Rapids’ Jonatan Berggren and Simon Edvinsson, Iowa’s Nic Petan and Jesper Wallstedt, Manitoba’s Brad Lambert, Milwaukee’s Yaroslav Askarov and Spencer Stastney, Rockford’s Ethan Del Mastro and Texas’ Matej Blumel, Mavrik Bourque and Logan Stankoven.
Vasily Ponomarev is back with the Wolves after a whirlwind few days.
The forward was recalled to the Carolina Hurricanes on Friday morning, raced to Washington, D.C. and after arriving at the rink two hours before gametime, made his NHL debut by scoring a goal and adding an assist to help the Canes defeat the Capitals 6-2.
“I’m proud of myself because I remember when I attended my first game in the NHL it was in Capital Arena and seven years later I’m playing there,” Ponomarev said. “I was watching one of the best games in the NHL with Pittsburgh playing Washington in a playoff game and I saw how Sidney (Crosby) and (Alex) Ovechkin played and I wanted to be like them. These days I can be.”
The 21-year-old Ponomarev appeared for the Canes the following day and was held off the scoresheet. The Moscow, Russia, native was reassigned to the Wolves on Sunday.
“I’m going to remember it for the rest of my life,” Ponomarev said of his NHL debut. “I’m going to keep working to get called up again.”
IMPACT PLAY OF THE WEEK
On Friday night at Allstate Arena, forward Isaac Ratcliffe walked in on Tucson goaltender Matthew Villalta and gave the Wolves a lead they didn’t relinquish en route to a 4-1 victory over the Roadrunners.
REPUBLIC BANK SAVE OF THE WEEK
Goaltender Keith Kinkaid made this brilliant stop on the Tucson Roadrunners’ Milos Kelemen during the Wolves’ win Friday night at Allstate Arena.
C.D.E. COLLISION CENTERS’ COLLISION OF THE WEEK
During the Wolves’ game against the Roadrunners on Saturday night, forward Max Comtois delivered this check to Tucson’s Patrik Koch.
Weekly rewind (1-1-0-0)
FRIDAY, JAN. 5
Wolves 4, Roadrunners 1: Isaac Ratcliffe, Cory Conacher, Max Comtois and Chris Terry scored and Keith Kinkaid was stellar in goal as the Wolves captured their second win in a row and extended their points streak to three games.
SATURDAY, JAN. 6
Roadrunners 4, Wolves 0: The Wolves were unable to solve Roadrunners goaltender Dylan Wells, who had 19 saves to record the shutout.
First Star of the Week
Where we stand
10-16-3-2, sixth in the Central Division.
|Saturday, Jan. 13
|H-E-B Center at Cedar Park
|Sunday, Jan. 14
|H-E-B Center at Cedar Park
|Friday, Jan. 19
|Tuesday, Jan. 23
|Canada Life Centre
|Wednesday, Jan. 24
|Canada Life Centre