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SPECIAL TIMES FOR SPECIAL TEAMS

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.

WOLVES STAND TALL WHILE SHORTHANDED

The Wolves’ special teams have been nothing short of, well, special this season.

Both the power play (21.0 percent) and penalty kill (84.4 percent) rank in the Top 5 in the American Hockey League. That makes the Wolves one of two teams—along with AHL points leader Hershey—ranking that high in both categories.

Now, the Wolves are catching the league leaders in another special teams category: shorthanded goals.

When Rocco Grimaldi notched a shorty during last Wednesday’s game against the IceHogs in Rockford, it gave the Wolves seven this season, moving them into a tie for 10th in the league.

Grimaldi and Nathan Sucese lead the way with two shorthanded markers each while Max Comtois, Dominic Franco and Cory Conacher have one apiece. Meanwhile, Grimaldi and Matt Donovan each have two shorthanded assists.

It’s no surprise that two of the Wolves’ speediest skaters—Grimaldi and Sucese—lead the way while shorthanded.

“I use my speed to my advantage so I don’t have to cheat and I still get opportunities,” Sucese said. “It’s just putting pressure on their D at the top. When you’re the last guy back, you have to make the right play on the power-play guy and if he messes up you have an opportunity.

“You have to read numbers,” Sucese continued. “I like to play centerfield to the back-side flank and when (opponents) don’t win the battle it comes out to us and I use my boots to get up the ice.”

Scoring or yielding shorthanded goals can alter the outcome. The Wolves are also tied for 10th with five goals scored against them while skating on the power play.

“You want to use special teams as a boost for your team, whether you’re killing or on the power play,” Sucese said. “So when you get a shorty or score a power-play goal or kill a penalty, it’s a big momentum swing for the team.”

MR. 300

What was Cavan Fitzgerald’s reaction to learning he is set to play in his 300th career AHL game?

“That’s a lot of games,” the Wolves defenseman said. “A lot of road trips.”

Fitzgerald is sitting on 299 career games and is likely to reach the milestone when the Wolves face the Rockford IceHogs on Wednesday night at Allstate Arena.

The Boston native has appeared in 49 of the Wolves’ 60 games this season and has already posted career highs with 10 goals and 11 assists. After two consecutive seasons during which Fitzgerald battled injuries that limited him to 53 and 30 games, respectively, the 27-year-old has been relatively healthy this season and the production has followed.

“I’m finally a little healthier this year so that’s always nice,” Fitzgerald said. “Knock on wood, hopefully it stays that way and I can keep it rolling.

“It’s not that fun being injured and sitting in the stands,” he added. “Maybe I would have hit that 300 mark a little sooner.”

IMPACT PLAY OF THE WEEK

Forward Rocco Grimaldi made this highlight-reel play to score shorthanded during the Wolves’ game against the IceHogs on March 20 in Rockford.

 

REPUBLIC BANK SAVE OF THE WEEK

During Saturday’s game in Iowa, Wild defenseman Simon Johansson was awarded a penalty shot that Wolves goaltender Keith Kinkaid halted.

 

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

Wolves defenseman Cavan Fitzgerald lowered the boom on the IceHogs’ Colton Dach during the March 20 game in Rockford.

 

Weekly rewind (0-2-0-1)

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 20

IceHogs 4, Wolves 3 (OT): Rocco Grimaldi had a goal and an assist and Matt Donovan and Max Comtois also scored to help Chicago earn a valuable point in the Central Division postseason race.

FRIDAY, MARCH 22

Wild 2, Wolves 1 (SO): Cory Conacher scored in regulation and Adam Scheel was strong in goal for the Wolves, who extended their points streak to two games.

SATURDAY, MARCH 23

Wild 4, Wolves 1: Nathan Sucese scored for the Wolves but Iowa got two goals from Michael Milne to help hand Chicago its sixth loss in a row.

First Star of the Week

ADAM SCHEEL, G

The 24-year-old from Lakewood, Ohio, was stellar during Friday night’s game against the Wild in Iowa. Scheel stopped 25 of 26 shots to help the Wolves secure a point.

For the season, Scheel is 13-17-3-4 with a 2.80 goals-against average and .909 save percentage.

 

Where we stand

21-31-4-4, seventh in the Central Division.

UPCOMING SCHEDULE

Wednesday, March 27 Rockford 7 p.m. Allstate Arena AHLTV/My50 Chicago/NHL Network
Friday, March 29 Grand Rapids 7 p.m. Allstate Arena AHLTV/My50 Chicago
Saturday, March 30 Rockford 7 p.m. Allstate Arena AHLTV/My50 Chicago
Wednesday, April 3 At Grand Rapids 6 p.m. Van Andel Arena AHLTV
Saturday, April 6 At Manitoba 2 p.m. Canada Life Centre AHLTV