The Chicago Wolves played just once in the past week, losing 4-3 in a shootout to the Rockford IceHogs last Saturday and dropping their April record to 3-2-2. While Chicago still sits atop the AHL’s Central Division with a 0.762 winning percentage, the Laval Rocket have surged to the top of the league standings (0.769).
The Wolves have a brutal stretch ahead of them to close out the month. They host Rockford tonight, play at Cleveland on Friday and Saturday, play at Grand Rapids on Monday and Thursday, and then host Iowa on Friday, April 30.
Explore: Nashville’s AHL/ECHL Prospects
April 17 @ Rockford IceHogs
Connor Ingram started his second game of the season, stopping 37 of 40 shots in a shootout loss to Rockford. The Wolves allowed the game's first goal (again) but a rapid response came from a Cole Smith deflection and a David Cotton power-play goal half a minute later.
Smith recorded his second of the night late in the second period off a beautiful individual effort from Sean Malone, but Chicago allowed the equalizer late in period three.
Tim Soderlund and Brandon Pirri both scored for Rockford in the shootout, while Patrick Harper and David Cotton were stopped.
Players of the Week
Connor Ingram: It’ll take more than two games for Ingram to rebound to his top form, but Saturday’s performance, and the 40 shots he faced, will help him in finding his game. As Ingram begins to look more comfortable, I hope he’ll split starts the rest of the way with Beck Warm, so he’s up to speed for the 2021-22 season. [RK]
Cole Smith: Rolling without leading offensive producers like Tanner Jeannot, Philip Tomasino, Ryan Suzuki, and Dominik Bokk, the Wolves were reduced to 11 forwards last weekend. Smith stepped up on a line alongside Sean Malone and Dave Gust. He doubled his goal output on the season, scoring twice against Rockford, and looked effective on the Wolves’ forecheck. [ED]
Notes and Quotes
- Tucson Roadrunners: Tucson went 1-1-1 against Henderson last week. Michael Carcone scored his 11th goal of the season on Sunday; Josh Wilkins added a primary assist on Monday, his third point of the year.
- Last Wednesday, the Nashville Predators recalled forward Philip Tomasino to their taxi squad and returned forward Tommy Novak to Chicago. What a weird year it’s been for the 2019 first-round pick, joining Nashville in last year’s playoff bubble, playing at the World Junior Championship, going to the AHL, and now back in Nashville. Regardless of if he plays, it’s another great opportunity for him to adjust to the professional lifestyle and a nice reward for his excellent season with the Wolves.
- Due to COVID-19, the league’s entry-level slide rules have been prorated from nine to seven games. If Tomasino dresses for seven regular-season or playoff games this year, his entry-level contract will not slide back another year, and he will burn a year on this season.
- Last week, forward Zach Solow signed an amateur tryout (ATO) with Chicago for the rest of the 2021 season. On Saturday, he officially signed an AHL contract with Milwaukee for next season.
- I’ve yet to confirm if he’s injured, but Lukas Craggs has not played since March 14.
- Yesterday, Nashville signed defender Marc Del Gaizo to an entry-level contract starting next season. He’ll report to Chicago on an ATO to finish this season.
- Much like Cole Smith did last weekend, now is an excellent time for Patrick Harper to take advantage of increased opportunities. It’s been a tough season after a hot start in the ECHL, but he’s finding ways to make an impact off the puck. Rachel notes, “He’s engaging more in the play, applying back pressure as he’s able to catch opponents with his speed, and forechecking with better angles. There are many small differences in his game from just two months ago.”
- Although he didn’t get into his first NHL game, Tommy Novak has come a long way from his injury-riddled college years. Having him and Sean Malone down the middle provides excellent stability for Chicago, and Novak should earn some call-up minutes next season, especially if he continues to produce at his 1.07 points-per-game clip.
- One stat that stands out to me: Five Nashville forwards have recorded a primary point on 60% or more of the even-strength goals the Wolves have scored while they were on the ice: Luke Evangelista (100%), Rem Pitlick (78%), Tommy Novak (67%), Sean Malone (67%), and Tanner Jeannot (60%).