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wolves AT HOME ON THE ROAD
The Wolves are set to embark on a season-long, six-game road trip that would appear daunting but for the fact they’ve played their best hockey away from home of late.
It’s clear the Wolves feel comfortable away from the friendly confines of Allstate Arena.
“It’s kind of like an us against the world thing when we go to a different city,” Wolves defenseman Cavan Fitzgerald said. “We have a good record on the road and we want to continue that.”
After rolling through Texas, Rockford and Manitoba during their last road trip, the Wolves are sporting an 8-9-0-1 record away from home.
“It’s not always easy going on the road but sometimes those are the games you just have to grind out and just play the right way,” forward Josh Melnick said. “You have the opposing crowd against you but dealing with a little bit of adversity can always bring us together. It’s important to try to get ahead early and then manage the puck and manage the game.”
Getting ahead early was the winning formula during the last trip. The Wolves notched the first goal in each of the five victories and outscored their opponents a combined 6-0 in opening periods.
“Getting that first one on the road lets you play with a little bit of a cushion and guys get some extra legs once we score that first one,” Kyle Marino said. “That’s been crucial for us.”
Added fellow forward Chris Terry: “Scoring early on the road helps a lot. You don’t want to be chasing the game on the road—it makes it a lot harder.
“There are no changes structurally or systems-wise—it’s just a mindset,” Terry added about playing on the road. “An ideal road game is we dictate the play, keep them hemmed in their zone and utilize the strengths of our game, which is our forecheck.”
BETTER LATE THAN NEVER FOR DOMENICK FENSORE
Following the Wolves’ victory over the Moose last Wednesday in Manitoba, Isaac Ratcliffe did a quick spin on the ice after being named First Star of the game thanks to his game-winning goal.
The only problem was, Ratcliffe didn’t actually score it–Domenick Fensore did.
Only later did off-ice officials review the goal and award it to Fensore, who had shot the puck toward the net and it eventually trickled in while Ratcliffe engaged in a goal-mouth scramble. Making the score even more significant is that it was Fensore’s first career American Hockey League goal.
“It was definitely not the way you’d draw it up,” Fensore said of scoring his first career AHL goal. “I was told after the game that it could have been mine and then they confirmed it. I’ll take it any way I can get it.”
While it would be nice to describe to his future grandchildren some day how his first goal came off a highlight-reel play, instead Fensore will look back at it this way:
“I kind of did a give-and-go with (Kyle) Marino and he got it back to the wall and I was there by myself,” Fensore described. “I just kind of threw it on net. I was trying to go to (Hudson Elynuik) on the back door but it hit the goalie’s stick and popped right out to Ratcliffe. I thought he hit it in but I guess it was the defender’s skate or something that kind of poked it in.”
Here’s a look at the goal, which had everyone fooled into believing Ratcliffe had scored it:
The goal came in Fensore’s 14th game with the Wolves and made him the last skater on the current roster to find the back of the net.
“I was wondering when I was going to get it,” the 22-year-old from Bronxville, N.Y., said. “To finally get it out of the way is nice and a little bit of a relief. I want to be more consistent and hopefully I can get some more.
The search for consistency has been hampered by an ankle injury that kept Fensore out of the lineup for a month. He was sidelined five games into his Wolves career after he arrived in Chicago on Nov. 12, courtesy of a loan from Norfolk of the ECHL.
“It’s definitely been a weird season, for sure,” the 5-feet-7-inch, 151-pound Fensore said. “I feel like lately I’ve been playing more consistent and been stronger on pucks. Being a smaller guy, you have to be good at something and I think part of my game is to move pucks up and being a one-man breakout. That’s something I can do to help the team.”
HEY NOW, HE’S AN ALL-STAR
Wolves forward Rocco Grimaldi said he’s getting excited about participating in the 2024 AHL All-Star Classic on Feb. 4-5 in San Jose.
“I had a lot of fun six years ago,” Grimaldi said. “These games are fun because you get to play with some guys that you’re playing against every other night, it feels like. It will be nice to be on their team for once.”
Grimaldi doesn’t know yet which event he will be in during the Skills Competition. He submitted a list in order of the seven events in which he’d like to participate.
“It’s cool to see what guys are good at, especially because there’s more pressure,” Grimaldi said. “I think the target shooting is intimidating so I put that near the bottom of my list. If a guy can go 4-for-4 with everyone watching and not get pressured, that’s pretty impressive.”
IMPACT PLAY OF THE WEEK
Grimaldi got the Wolves off to a good start during Sunday’s game against the Manitoba Moose when he notched his team-leading 21st goal of the season following a terrific stretch pass from teammate Cavan Fitzgerald.
REPUBLIC BANK SAVE OF THE WEEK
With the Wolves making a late push to knot Sunday’s game against the Moose, goaltender Keith Kinkaid stoned Manitoba’s Jeffrey Viel on a shorthanded breakaway.
C.D.E. COLLISION CENTERS’ COLLISION OF THE WEEK
During Sunday’s game, Wolves forward Dominic Franco laid the body on the Moose’s Dean Stewart and then added another hit seconds later on Nikita Chibrikov.
Weekly rewind (0-2-0-0)
SATURDAY, JAN. 27
Admirals 5, Wolves 0: The Wolves weren’t able to solve Admirals goaltender Troy Grosenick, who made 18 saves to record the shutout and snap Chicago’s five-game winning streak.
SUNDAY, JAN. 28
Moose 2, Wolves 1: Rocco Grimaldi notched the first goal of the contest but it wasn’t enough as the Wolves fell for the second consecutive game.
First Star of the Week
Where we stand
15-18-3-2, fifth in the Central Division.
|Friday, Feb. 2
|Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse
|Saturday, Feb. 3
|Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse
|Friday, Feb. 9
|UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena
|Saturday, Feb. 10
|Tuesday, Feb. 13
|UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena