The Wolves returned to action over the weekend with two divisional bouts against the Milwaukee Admirals on Jan. 31 and the Manitoba Moose on Feb. 1. Both games proved to be important as the Wolves hang on to the third spot in the Central Division.
Friday night was a tough matchup for the Wolves. Recently, the Wolves have matched up very well with the league’s best Milwaukee Admirals, so welcoming them into town on a week’s rest was critical for the in hope of gaining two points.
Friday’s game was not what the Wolves were hoping for. After being down 2–0 early in the contest, the Wolves ultimately dropped Friday’s game 7–3. The Wolves were able to bridge the gap in the second period when the score was 5–3, but the Admirals were just too much for the home team and captured the victory at Allstate Arena.
Some pluses from the game included goals scored by Tye McGinn, Brandon Pirri and Lucas Elvenes as well as two assists from Keegan Kolesar.
However, aside from the loss, Kolesar left the game with what appeared to be a knee injury. It did not look good either, as Kolesar was seen sitting in the Allstate Arena’s upper level for Saturday’s game with a large brace on his right knee.
Saturday’s game was a chance for redemption for the Wolves. Without Kolesar, the Wolves were still in a great position to win as they welcomed the lowly Moose to town for Saturday night AHL action.
The first period was nothing much to discuss, as neither team could crack the opponent’s goaltender. One scary moment for Oscar Dansk was when he missed an innocent floating shot in on net that rang the post.
However, the middle frame proved to be the deciding period for the Wolves. McGinn tipped in a Nicholas Hague shot, and Gabe Quinney and Elvenes each scored backdoor power play goals for the Wolves.
The Wolves would let the Moose back in it; with about three minutes remaining the score was 3–2 Wolves. However, the Wolves scored two empty net goals and won 5–2.
The Wolves will travel to Winnipeg, Manitoba, to play the Moose for two games on Thursday and Friday. These two games are critical for the Wolves if they want to keep pace with the rest of the contending teams in the division.
No Golden Knights next year
Jesse Granger of The Athletic tweeted on Saturday night that the Golden Knights were, in fact, cutting ties with the Wolves after the 2019–20 season. He also shared his in-depth article about the likely separation:
Chicago Wolves chairman Don Levin sees “no scenario at all” where Wolves are affiliated with the Golden Knights next season.
My story on VGK bringing the AHL to Las Vegas- https://t.co/ZaqwrpiNQe
— Jesse Granger (@JesseGranger_) February 2, 2020
Wolves owner Don Levin confirmed the organization would not be moving to Las Vegas, therefore severing ties with Vegas.
The long story short is the Golden Knights want their AHL team to play at the Orleans Hotel and Casino arena, which hosted the city’s ECHL team, the Las Vegas Wranglers, from 2003–2014. This short distance gives the team benefits of calling up and sending players down in the same city. Per the rules of the league, if a player is assigned to the AHL, they must report for that practice. Players such as Nicholas Roy and Hague are sent up and down multiple times in order for the Golden Knights to comply with the salary cap. So, every time that happens, they have to report for practice in Chicago, then fly back to Las Vegas or wherever the Golden Knights are playing when recalled.
The benefits of placing a team in Henderson, Nevada, which is about 16 miles southeast of Las Vegas, allows players to take a short drive between stadiums in the event of a call-up or send-down situation.
The questions presented by such a move include “who will the Wolves align with next season?” and “which AHL team is going to be bought and relocated?”. These two questions likely are going to be answered in a single swoop. What does that mean, you ask? Well, whichever AHL team that isn’t currently owned by their NHL affiliate will likely be an option for the Vegas Golden Knights to buy and relocate. Once that occurs, that will open the avenues for the Wolves to affiliate with whichever NHL franchise is without an AHL club.
There have been rumblings that the Rockford IceHogs, the Chicago Blackhawks’ AHL affiliate, could be bought and relocated to Henderson, Nevada. If that were to happen, it would be the first time the two Chicago franchises aligned in affiliation. Geographically, it would make plenty of sense. However, the bad blood between Wayne Messmer, a partial owner with the Wolves, and Bill Wirtz would have to be put aside for that to happen. They should be able to move on now that Rocky Wirtz owns the team, but the Blackhawks have a lot of control over the IceHogs, which they may not have if affiliating with the Wolves.
There are numerous possibilities that could happen with the Wolves’ affiliation and we will soon find out who they will be aligned with in the future.
Defenseman Jaycob Megna honored the late Kobe Bryant by wearing a Bryant No. 24 jersey in warmups before the Wolves went on to beat the Moose. Megna, who wears the number, thought it was a great way to pay tribute to an icon who impacted people well beyond the sport of basketball.
Tonight our team honored Kobe Bryant and his legacy. @JaycobMegna wore a customized jersey during warmups and the entire team signed it to raise money for the @GirlsintheGame organization. #RIPMAMBA #WeAreTheWolves pic.twitter.com/p4UFA4vSeJ
— Chicago Wolves (@Chicago_Wolves) February 2, 2020
An awesome tribute by Megna to a legend and that jersey will definitely help fund a great cause in honor of Kobe and Gigi Bryant, as well as John, Keri and Alyssa Altobelli, Sarah and Payton Chester, Christina Mauser and Ara Zobayan, who all lost their lives in the tragic accident over a week ago.
That is all for now. Until next time, see you at the Wolves Den.