The last two weeks have been busy for the Chicago Wolves. The Wolves played five games over these last two weeks, while also learning the Vegas Golden Knights would not be their NHL affiliate starting next season. It is safe to say that the last two weeks have been rather busy and noteworthy for the Wolves.
Feb. 6 and 7
Over the weekend of Feb. 6 and 7, the Wolves split their two-game stint in Manitoba against the Moose. After defeating the Moose the weekend prior at home, the Moose enacted revenge in Thursday’s game, downing the visiting Wolves 3–2.
The Wolves had a lead going into the third period after goals from Lucas Elvenes and Nic Hague. However, it was not enough, as the Moose rallied and a C.J. Suess power play tally won the game for the host team with just 3:46 remaining in the tilt.
The loss was Oscar Dansk’s first regulation loss since Nov. 29, further affirming how sensational Dansk has been since November.
On Feb. 7, the Wolves salvaged the weekend and defeated the Moose by a score of 2–0. Dansk manned the net again and stopped all 25 shots he faced to earn his third shutout of the season. The Wolves offense was provided by Tye McGinn, who had been very hot of late with his scoring touch scoring four goals in his prior four games, and Gage Quinney.
Ideally, the Wolves could have taken both games of the weekend, but a split is certainly better than nothing when on the road for back-to-back games. The Wolves had the benefit of being off for six days before playing again on Feb. 13 against the league-best Milwaukee Admirals.
Feb. 13, 15 and 16
The Wolves’ three prior games were certainly a tale of hot and cold. The Wolves began their three-game weekend in underwhelming fashion. The Wolves were down 2–0 to the Milwaukee Admirals after 40 minutes and needed some spark. However, against a very tough Admirals team, that was unlikely.
Did I say underwhelming? I meant exhilarating. Did I say unlikely? Anything is possible. The Wolves did the unexpected in the third period, scoring four goals on four shots in just under five minutes of play to take the lead. The Wolves came out and showed they were the better team in the third, as Gage Quinney, Dylan Coghlan, Valentin Zykov and newly returned Cody Glass scored during the stretch.
Tye McGinn added the empty-net tally for his 15th of the season to seal the win for the Wolves, capping off an extraordinary comeback against a very good Milwaukee team.
Coach Rocky Thompson attributed the team’s success in the third period to some line changes, getting the team going and freshening things up in order to find success.
During Saturday’s tilt, the outcome was vastly different. Despite the game being 1–1 early, the Wolves let the Grand Rapids Griffins take over the game and jump out to a 5–1 by the first seven minutes of the third period. Jake Bischoff added a late tally, but the game was a lost cause. The Griffins’ win is worrisome for the Wolves as the standings between spots three and six are only separated by five points. The division is getting tight aside from the Admirals and Wild at the top.
The Wolves’ final game on Sunday required some overtime heroics to send the home team away happy. After goals from Dylan Coghlan and Curtis McKenzie in regulation, the teams were tied at two goals apiece entering the overtime period. In the overtime period, Brandon Pirri found Coghlan wide open in the slot and the defenseman fired home his second of the evening to give the Wolves the 3–2 in overtime.
Overall, the weekend was successful for the Wolves, despite a rough outing on Saturday. The key for the Wolves now is simple, win. The middle pack of the division is too close for comfort and will require some major winning streaks form any of those teams to separate themselves from the pack. The Wild and Admirals are well ahead, but the Moose, who are in last place, are only nine points back of the Wolves in third.
Preview, Glass and Whitecloud return
News broke on Tuesday that Cody Glass and Zach Whitecloud were sent down to the Wolves ahead of Thursday’s game at the Allstate Arena against Grand Rapids. After Thursday’s game, the Wolves will travel to Milwaukee for a tilt against the Admirals on Friday and return home on Sunday to face instate rival Rockford.
With the return of Glass and Whitecloud, it is uncertain how long the two will be down. Vegas has been on a carousel sending players such as Nic Hague and Nicholas Roy back and forth between the big club and the Wolves. There is always a chance this happens with Whitecloud and, especially, Glass during this late stretch of the season.
There is a solid chance that Cody Glass remains down with the Wolves for the stretch run in March. Glass has been injured since January and only returned to game action last week for the Wolves against Milwaukee. The games would be good for Glass to get back in the swing of things and, since Vegas is hot without Glass, they may allow him to dominate the AHL for the remainder of the season with anticipation he starts with the big club next year.
Enjoy him Wolves fans, as this will be the last season you see Glass in Chicago, ever.
Vegas Golden Knights buy San Antonio
As of a few weeks ago, there were rumors and rumblings that the Wolves and Golden Knights would no longer be affiliated next season. Soon after those rumors broke, Golden Knights’ owner Bill Foley confirmed the team was searching for an AHL franchise to buy and relocate to Henderson, Nevada. The team was expected to play at the Orleans Arena where Las Vegas’s ECHL franchise once played.
News: A source told @TheAthleticNHL Bill Foley & the Golden Knights paid $10 million for the San Antonio Rampage AHL team, to relocate them to Las Vegas.
Here’s why they believe it’s worth every penny-https://t.co/clQvM8SlCJ
— Jesse Granger (@JesseGranger_) February 12, 2020
Not more than a week later, news broke that the Golden Knights bought the San Antonio Rampage, the St. Louis Blues’ current affiliate, and will relocate them after the season concludes. The purchase of the Rampage officially ends the Wolves-Golden Knights partnership after the conclusion of this 2019–20 season.
Now, the options for the Wolves are quite limited. The only realistic options are to either re-affiliate with the Blues or play a season as an independent and wait for Seattle.
However, there are reports that Seattle will be getting their own AHL franchise out west with most of the other west coast teams. With that being the case, the Wolves only real option is to realign with their former affiliate down in St. Louis.
How the Levin family will handle that possibility will be interesting. It is worth noting that the two franchise’s partnership didn’t end on great terms, as St. Louis wanted more control over the roster and coaches and the Wolves did not want to budge.
The Wolves are a proud, self-run franchise in the AHL. However, in today’s NHL, most parent teams want control of just about everything. That is the exact reason fans are seeing so many teams be bought by the parent club. So the Wolves may have to give a little in order to continue having an affiliation with an NHL club.
More to come Wolves’ fans, this team could change a bit at the trade deadline, depending on what Vegas decides to do.
Roy, Whitecloud and Schuldt re-called
As of Wednesday, the Vegas Golden Knights re-called Nicholas Roy, Zach Whitecloud and Jimmy Schuldt up to the big club.
We're expecting a sellout crowd for tomorrow's 11 a.m. game against @griffinshockey!
— Chicago Wolves (@Chicago_Wolves) February 19, 2020
There was a lot of speculation in the Twitter world, including myself, thinking that another move could possibly happen. The Golden Knights acquired defenseman Alec Martinez from the Los Angeles Kings on Wednesday, so seeing two defensemen being re-called was quite a surprise.
However, Jesse Granger, Vegas beat writer for The Athletic, had the answer:
McCrimmon said the call-ups of Roy, Whitecloud and Schuldt were salary cap related.
I believe this means the team has indeed put Alex Tuch on LTIR, because the only way to benefit from adding salary is prior to that move (closer to the cap ceiling, the more relief you get).
— Jesse Granger (@JesseGranger_) February 19, 2020
Seems that today’s moves are strictly for cap reasons. Would not be much of a surprise if as soon as Tuch is back, one or both of the defensemen return to the Wolves.
Until next time, see you at the Wolves Den.