Game centers

Gameday: “An emotional game”

CHICAGO WOLVES (38-10-5-5)
AT IOWA WILD (24-25-4-4)

Sunday March 27 | 3 p.m. | Wells Fargo Stadium | AHLTV | facebook live

“AN EMOTIONAL GAME”

There was something incredibly satisfying about the Chicago Wolves’ 4-3 overtime win over the Manitoba Moose – and only a small part of it was the fact that Josh Leivo’s goal with 2.2 seconds left in extra time gave Wolves the extra point.

From start to finish, both teams fed off a packed crowd and turned an important game into something that looked worthy of a Western Conference final or a series of Cup finals. Calder. There were wild swings, wild emotional outbursts, standout saves, plenty of physical play – and more than 7,000 fans acknowledging the stakes and paying the fighters their due.

And when Leivo scored the winning goal, Wolves rushed onto the ice in celebration as if they had just done more than extend their Central Division lead over the Moose to 14 points.

“If you’re a fan, it’s a really good hockey game to watch,” Wolves head coach Ryan Warsofsky said. “It was a good game to coach and be part of. It will be like that in stride.

“I look at it as we won the match – that’s very important – but we experienced something even more important tonight: we had an emotional match. (We had) a call that didn’t followed our path. We were 5 against 3 understrength. We were missing a goal at the start of the third period.

“We’ve been through a lot of things that we need to make the playoffs, to get that feeling. This situation will happen again.

TIM BRESLIN UNKNOWN HEROES AWARD

Voting ends at noon Monday for one of the Chicago Wolves’ most prestigious honours: the Tim Breslin Unsung Hero Award, which goes to the current Wolves player who comes closest to the on-ice spirit and attitude of Breslin team. Breslin, one of the first three players to sign with the team after forming in 1994, played five seasons for Wolves and helped the team win their first league championship.

Breslin died on February 9, 2005, from appendix cancer. Shortly after, Wolves created the Unsung Hero Award in his honor and also launched a scholarship fund which offers a $7,500 tuition stipend.

The nominees for this year’s Unsung Hero Award are, in alphabetical order: forward David Gust (14 goals, 18 assists, +13 over/under), defender Josh Jacobs (4 goals, 9 assists, +12 over/ less), defender Max Lajoie (3 goals, 27 assists) and center Maxim Letunov (11 goals, 10 assists).

To vote, please click here. The winner will receive their prize prior to Sunday’s April 10 game against Cleveland.

we are the wolves

When the Wolves swept the Iowa Wild on a Feb. 19-20 weekend at Allstate Arena, it sparked an 11-1-1-2 (.833) streak for the division leaders central.

Not only has that run given Wolves the second-best running percentage in the AHL — their .729 effort trails only the Stockton Heat’s .750 — but they’re dangerously close to posting the best regular-season record in franchise history. wolves.

In 1999-2000, head coach John Anderson’s Wolves recorded 53 wins, 21 losses and 8 shootout losses to record 114 points and forge a 0.695 point percentage. Because this year’s Wolves are playing six fewer games, they only need 106 points to break the record. This means earning 20 points from their last 17 games.

LAST TWO MATCHES

FRIDAY, MARCH 25: (AT) CHICAGO 4, MANITOBA 3 (OT)

  • Striker Josh Leivo fired a shot from the high slot with 2.2 seconds left in extra time to give Wolves the hard-fought victory in a battle between the Central Division’s top sides.
  • Leivo had two goals and an assist while forwards Andrew Poturalski and Jamieson Rees also netted. For Poturalski, it was his 100th goal as a professional.
  • Goalkeeper Alex Lyon made 27 saves in the win, including seven saves in overtime.

TUESDAY, MARCH 22: (AT) CHICAGO 3, TEXAS 1

  • Forwards David Gust and Stefan Noesen scored 13 seconds apart early in the second period to give Wolves a 3-0 lead en route to victory at Allstate Arena.
  • Defenseman Joey Keane opened the scoring with a power-play goal at 2:31 of the night, while Noesen and captain Andrew Poturalski each had three points.
  • Goaltender Pyotr Kochetkov stopped 23 shots to improve his record to 6-0-1.

By the numbers

2.53: The Wolves lead the American Hockey League with 2.53 goals against per game. The Stockton Heat, the only team with a better overall record than Wolves, sit second at 2.65. If Wolves can maintain their place atop the GAA rankings, it would be the first time in franchise history that they led their league in the fewest goals allowed. Before that, Chicago came closest to third place in 2018-19 with 2.62 goals against per game. This should not be confused with the team record for fewest goals against per game. That was established in 2013-14 when AHL Goalie of the Year Jake Allen and primary backup Matt Climie led the team to a mark of 2.51 per game.

5: It’s Wolves’ magic number to clinch their 21st playoff spot in 26 seasons (ignoring the last two years when COVID-19 didn’t allow anyone to qualify for the Calder Cup playoffs). Wolves need two of three things to win: A combination of 5 points won by Wolves and lost by the Iowa Wild; a combination of 4 points won by the Wolves and lost by the Texas Stars; a combination of 5 points won by Wolves and lost by Grand Rapids Griffins. Only one of them is a possibility today, so Wolves can’t clinch until Tuesday’s game in Cleveland at the earliest. The team’s magic number to earn a first-round bye is 10 and the magic number to win its fifth Central Division title in six years is 20.

8.83: The Wolves are aiming to become the first AHL team since the 2007-08 Providence Bruins to lead the league in Shots For (34.64) and Shots Against (25.81) in the same season. Their shots-per-game differential (8.83) ranks as the biggest positive margin in the AHL since the 2001-02 Saint John Flames managed an 11.51 shot advantage. Wolves have a shot at breaking franchise single-season records for Shots For (34.69) and Shots Against (27.93).

35: Wolves forward Stefan Noesen leads the AHL with 35 goals, two ahead of Ontario’s Martin Frk. He also leads the AHL in game-winning goals (9) and shares the lead with Frk in first goals (7). With his next GWG, he will equal the organization’s single-season record shared by Chris Marinucci (1998-99), Brett Sterling (2007-08), Mark Mancari (2011-12) and Shane Harper (2014-15) . With 35 goals in 54 appearances, the 29-year-old from Plano, Texas is on course to score 46 goals. Only three Wolves (Sterling, Steve Maltais and Rob Brown) have scored more than 41 goals in a single season.

100: Wolves captain Andrew Poturalski scored his 100th professional goal in the first period of Friday’s 4-3 overtime win over Manitoba. It took several minutes for it to become Poturalski’s 100th goal. At the time, it appeared that Poturalski’s accurate pass on the power play from the left circle into the slot had come out of Stefan Noesen’s tape in the net – so Noesen was credited with his league-leading 36th goal . Upon closer examination during the first intermission, a slow-motion replay showed a Manitoba defenseman redirecting the puck past the goaltender, becoming Poturalski’s goal. Fortunately, Noesen had the presence of mind to pick up that puck and bring it to the bench in memory of Poturalski.

419: Since Wolves played their first game on October 1, 1994, a total of 721 players have lined up for Chicago. Defenseman Brayden Pachal became the 419th to play in the NHL when he made his debut for the Vegas Golden Knights on March 15. In other words, 58.1% of all Wolves have played in the NHL.

NEXT FIVE MATCHES

All games are streamed on AHLTV.