Welcome to Wolves Insider, brought to you by Rivers Casino: the weekly report that brings you the latest Chicago Wolves news as the organization battles for their fifth division title for the past six years and fifth league championship overall.
ONLY SEVEN HOME MATCHES LEFT BEFORE THE PLAYOFFS
Hockey will always be known as a winter sport. But Wolves fans know that when spring arrives in Chicago, it’s a particularly good time to pay attention to this team. March and April are when rosters are solidified, playoff berths are clinched and game day freebies are great – all leading up to the league championship chase in May and June.
Wolves took care of Stage 1 last week when they clinched a place in the Calder Cup qualifiers. This week, they can earn a first-round bye and their fifth Central Division title in the last six years. Wolves have also added six players to make a talented and deep roster even better. General manager Wendell Young acquired three players at the trade deadline – longtime NHL forward Richard Panik and defensemen Chris Bigras and Tarmo Reunanen – and the team also added three career-ready rookies professional in second-round NHL picks Noel Gunler and Vasily Ponomarev and undrafted defenseman Griffin Mendel.
Chicago hockey fans have seen this team dominate the division and have taken over the Allstate Arena – and not just for the hockey. There’s more fun in store this weekend as the Wolves wrap up their five-game home run Saturday night against the second-placed Manitoba Moose and Sunday afternoon against the Cleveland Monsters.
On Saturday, the first 1,500 fans to enter the Allstate Arena receive a Wolves goalie mask courtesy of My50 Chicago. On Sundays, wizards, witches and muggles are invited to participate in the team’s first Wizards Day. To get the exclusive package including a Wolves wand, click here.
PYOTR THE GREAT
Wolves goaltender Pyotr Kochetkov has been named AHL Rookie of the Month for March. The 22-year-old Russian celebrated with a 6-1 win over Milwaukee to improve to 9-0-1 with a 1.80 goals-against average and .935 save percentage.
Wolves head coach Ryan Warsofsky said: “His team-mates like him and he fits in really well. He did a really good job and we have a really good goaltender who I think we’re going to see in the NHL for a very long time.
HELP SAVE LIVES APRIL 23
There are still appointments available for the Wolves/Vitalant blood drive on Saturday, April 23 at the Skyline room at Allstate Arena. Wolves and Vitalant are trying to match or surpass the incredible support from the previous blood drive on December 18 – when Wolves fans rallied to donate enough blood to save 402 lives.
Everyone who donates between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. on April 23 receives two tickets to a 2022 Calder Cup Qualifying match of their choice, a limited-edition t-shirt, a Wolves hat and a chance to win. an autographed Wolves jersey. To make an appointment, go Vitalant.org/Wolves and use code ORD0RS20 or call 877-258-4825.
The Texan great produced two goals on Saturday and another on Sunday to regain control of the AHL goal rush. Noesen has 38 goals this year, three ahead of Abbotsford’s Sheldon Dries. He is set to score 45 goals for the year as he tries to join Steve Maltais, Rob Brown and Brett Sterling as the only Wolves to produce more than 41 goals in a season.
The captain dished out 4 assists in four games last week to maintain his share of the AHL’s points lead with 24 goals and 61 assists. His 85 points are the most by a Wolves player since league MVP Jason Krog racked up 112 for the 2007-08 Calder Cup champions. Poturalski is on pace for 101 points and could be the first AHL player to break the 100-point mark since 2009-10.
In Wolves’ 6-1 win over Milwaukee on Saturday night, Drury posted a career-high 4 points (G, 3A) as well as a career-high +4 over/under. The Winnetka native took his season tally to 18 points and 27 assists. His 45 points rank him sixth among AHL rookies – and he eclipsed the 42 points his father, Ted, scored for the Wolves in 2000-01.
SUNDAY APRIL 3: TEXAS 5, (AT) CHICAGO 3
- Shortly after Wolves finished turning a 3-0 deficit into a 3-3 tie, the Stars scored a shorthanded goal and an empty net in the final 2:15 to earn their first regulation win. against Chicago this year.
- Forward CJ Smith started the comeback with two goals in the second period and forward Stefan Noesen scored his league-best 38th goal to close the game with 3:34 remaining.
- Goaltender Jack LaFontaine recorded a career-high 34 saves on 38 shots.
SATURDAY, APRIL 2: (AT) CHICAGO 6, MILWAUKEE 1
- Striker Stefan Noesen scored his league-leading 36th and 37th goals in the opening xx minutes and Jack Drury added a career-high 4 points as Wolves revenged Friday’s loss at the MIL.
- Forwards David Gust, Josh Leivo, Drury and Jamieson Rees added goals while Noesen scored 3 points and Kyle Marino earned first star honors for his fight that set the tone 2:56 on the night.
- Goalkeeper Pyotr Kochetkov made 21 saves for his fifth consecutive victory.
FRIDAY, APRIL 1: (AT) MILWAUKEE 4, CHICAGO 1
- Milwaukee scored twice 1:16 into the second period to erase Wolves’ 1-0 lead and set the tone for victory at Panther Arena.
- Rookie forward Jamieson Rees scored 1:35 into the game as Josh Leivo and Jack Drury picked up the assists.
- Goalkeeper Alex Lyon stopped 21 of 24 shots.
TUESDAY, MARCH 29: CHICAGO 4, (AT) CLEVELAND 2
- Forwards Josh Leivo and CJ Smith scored 19 seconds behind early in the third period to erase a 2-1 deficit and clinch a Calder Cup playoff berth.
- Defender Tarmo Reunanen scored 62 seconds into his Wolves debut, Leivo added a last-minute empty-netter and Ryan Suzuki provided two assists.
- Goalkeeper Pyotr Kochetkov made 27 saves for his fourth consecutive win.
NEXT FIVE MATCHES
All games are streamed on AHLTV.