The Chicago Wolves continued their reign of the 2021 season this past week with back-to-back wins over the Grand Rapids Griffins and the Rockford IceHogs, outscoring their opponents 9-4.
The league leaders in winning percentage (0.853) have dominated their division. Second place currently belongs to Cleveland (0.607), and Texas is the only other Central team with double-digit wins (10) this year. Chicago will be tested in the upcoming weeks, however, as they go on a five-game road trip with stops in Rockford, Iowa, and Grand Rapids.
The Wolves will return home on Wednesday, April 21, when they host the IceHogs for their fourth matchup in April.
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April 1 v. Grand Rapids Griffins
Chicago escaped period one with a 2-1 lead thanks to goals from David Warsofsky and Frédéric Allard—assisted by Luke Evangelista, his first professional point. Period two, however, was a lopsided affair as the Wolves surrendered 23 shots on net to Grand Rapids. Goalie Petr Mrazek—who was down on a conditioning stint—turned away all 23 and stopped 43 of 45 all afternoon.
Third period goals from Tanner Jeannot and two from Anthony Richard sealed a 5-2 victory for Chicago last Thursday.
April 3 v. Rockford IceHogs
Dominik Bokk continued his hot streak, scoring his fifth goal in seven games to respond to Rockford’s opening goal off a brutal Max Lajoie turnover right in front of the net. The Wolves and IceHogs traded goals in the second period, including a power play tally from Tanner Jeannot—his ninth of the year—in the final minute of the frame.
Cole Smith added an empty-net goal, and Devin Cooley stopped 31 of 33 shots for his second AHL win.
Players of the Week
Devin Cooley: Cooley is one of the more measured, precise goaltenders—for his size—that I’ve seen. He sees pucks well and posted a very solid 0.939 save percentage in Chicago’s game against Rockford on Saturday. Cooley worked hard in his two AHL starts, facing 57 shots in total. [RK]
Anthony Richard: Anthony Richard looked excellent this past week, scoring two goals and recording seven shots on net. On Thursday, Chicago’s top line of him, Tomasino, and Jeannot impressed their skill on Grand Rapids’ defenders most shifts. Richard now has five goals and nine points in 14 games this season. [ED]
Notes and Quotes
- Tucson Roadrunners: Tucson suited up three times last week against the Henderson Silver Knights. Josh Wilkins went pointless in the last two matchups, and Michael Carcone went pointless in all three but notched 11 shots on goal.
- Cleveland Monsters: Cleveland played twice in the past week, winning over both Grand Rapids and Rochester. Brandon Fortunato was a healthy scratch for both contests.
- Chicago has been busy with roster moves in the past week. Petr Mrazek and Max McCormick were both loaned from the Carolina Hurricanes for just one game; Frédéric Allard was returned to the AHL by the Nashville Predators in exchange for defender Tyler Lewington; Tommy Novak was recalled to Nashville’s taxi squad, and Devin Cooley was reassigned to Florida (ECHL) after two starts in a Wolves uniform.
- Tanner Jeannot is tied for eighth league-wide in goals (9) and first in points-per game (1.58) among skaters who have played 10 or more games. Second on that list is Colorado’s T.J. Tynan all the way back at 1.27 points-per-game. Per Rachel, “The goals are coming for him like he purchased them in bulk at Sam’s Club.”
- Cole Schneider—who was signed to an AHL contract with Milwaukee for this season—has six goals and 14 points in 19 games for the Texas Stars.
- With some of their heavy-hitting scorers out of the lineup (Rem Pitlick, Seth Jarvis, etc.), the Wolves are slowly getting some consistent secondary scoring from forwards like Dominik Bokk and David Cotton. The latter has three goals in his last six appearances.
- Patrick Harper and Lukas Craggs continue to be scratches in Ryan Warsofsky’s crowded locker room. Craggs hasn’t played since March 14, and Harper hasn’t played since March 13. You have to wonder what a season like this is doing for their development, especially Harper, who needs crucial in-game reps right now to settle down his game at the AHL level.
- I’ve tracked three of Philip Tomasino’s games this season so far. With top six minutes, he’s been on the ice for a high volume of shot attempts both ways (58.59 Corsi For/60 and 57.01 Corsi Against/60). In transition, it’s been clear Tomasino has had to adjust to quicker gap closures and more physical defenders, entering the offensive zone with possession on 55.56% of his attempts.
- I asked Petr Mrazek on Thursday what his adjustment was like communicating with a new set of defenders on such short notice: “It wasn’t that hard. Everybody’s professional here, so I think we adjusted to that pretty quickly...Guys called for the puck when they needed it, and that was the key,” he said.
- On Thursday, 2020 second-round pick Luke Evangelista recorded his first professional point—a primary assist on a Frédéric Allard goal. I asked Head Coach Ryan Warsofsky for his thoughts: “He looked a lot more comfortable today...He was moving his feet more, holding onto some pucks, and you can tell he can create and make plays offensively...I think the big thing for him is just learning the pro game, learning how to play away from the puck, how you angle a guy, how you have a good stick position in certain situations on your forecheck...He wants to learn and wants to get better,” he said.