Milwaukee Musings: Iowan Inconvenience
Notes for the week of May 3.
After going 2-3-2 in their previous seven games, Chicago entered this last week facing their second consecutive three-in-three stint—but prevailed with a 2-1-0 record, improving their points percentage to 0.722 on the year.
The Wolves have just six games remaining in their season; the AHL announced each division can make their own decisions on playoffs, and the Central Division will only crown a regular-season champion.
Chicago travels to Grand Rapids on Friday before hosting the Griffins on Saturday and Rockford on Monday.
Explore: Nashville’s AHL/ECHL Prospects
April 29 @ Grand Rapids
Chicago got out to a quick start with Anthony Richard scoring a shorthanded goal on a breakaway at the tail end of a Frédéric Allard tripping penalty. Philip Tomasino added his tenth of the year in period two, helping Connor Ingram secure his first AHL win of the season—a 29-save performance.
April 30 vs. Iowa
In a game that turned ugly quickly after the first frame, Chicago prevailed with helpful special teams scoring from Philip Tomasino and Sean Malone and a stout penalty kill that rendered Iowa scoreless with the skater advantage.
The Wolves and Wild combined for 80 penalty minutes, including five for Cole Smith, nine for Josh Healey, seven for Philip Tomasino, and 19 for Cody McLeod, who was also suspended for one game due to an instigator penalty in the game’s final five minutes—his target: Phil Tomasino.
May 1 vs. Iowa
Much of the defensive structure Chicago relied on during the week’s first two games disappeared on Saturday as Iowa avenged their loss from the previous night successfully. The Wild peppered Connor Ingram with 40 shots before he left halfway through the third period after taking a puck up high; Beck Warm then faced eight more shots on goal.
In a game that saw 102 total penalty minutes, Iowa won 5-2 with Chicago’s goals coming from Dominik Bokk and Dave Gust.
Players of the Week
Anthony Richard: Richard may have upped the physical aspects of his game this season, but he still is utilizing his breakaway speed. That was very evident in the game’s opening goal against Grand Rapids.
He’s tied for second on the Wolves with ten goals this season and has a career-best 0.42 goals-per-game mark this season. Fatigue has begun to set in, and it’s clear on certain shifts; Richard has played more minutes than any other Wolves forward in the Nashville organization this season. [RK]
Zach Solow: While he recorded just one goal in his last three games, I’ve been really impressed with Solow, who has two goals and three points in seven games with Chicago. He’s quickly graduated from fourth-line center to a player the coaching staff trusts in all scenarios, including when protecting a lead late in the game. He’s averaging a solid 1:47 of power-play ice time and 1:51 of penalty-kill ice time per game.
On Friday, Head Coach Warsofsky said on Solow: “He’s earned the penalty kill time, the power-play time by the way he plays and the way he prepares himself. You’d think this guy was a fifth-year pro the way he conducts himself off the ice.” [ED]
Notes and Quotes
- Tucson Roadrunners: Tucson went 1-1-0 in their last two games against San Diego, including a 9-2 win on Saturday. Michael Carcone scored one goal and four assists in the two games; Josh Wilkins scored two goals on Saturday.
- Marc Del Gaizo recorded his first pro point on Saturday—a primary assist on Chicago’s second goal. He started his first shift by losing a skate blade, but he’s settled in nicely in the Chicago lineup. You can tell he’s still adjusting to the increased pace of play when getting rid of the puck, but he’s connecting on passes and hasn’t skipped much of a beat on shot attempts either.
- If you looked at a list of who leads Chicago in penalty minutes (PIMs), #1 isn’t surprising (Josh Healey) and neither is #2 (Jamieson Rees), but #3 is Philip Tomasino, who has racked up 43 PIMs this season. Tomasino did not play on Saturday after being handed a fighting major in the final minutes on Friday.
- All AHL divisions except for the Pacific chose to not hold a playoff competition this season. When the Pacific announced their plans for a postseason tournament, the Professional Hockey Players Association responded by saying they were “ignoring the wishes of the vast majority of the Players within the Pacific Division.”
- Through three games I’ve tracked, Cole Smith has recorded a 60.34% Corsi at even strength; he’s also recorded 10.15 shot attempts per 60 minutes of even-strength play in those three games.
- As the season has progressed, Tommy Novak and Sean Malone have emerged as the Wolves’ top two centers. After Friday’s win, I asked Head Coach Ryan Warsofsky about the two: “Both of them hold onto pucks and can create...They’ve got the experience to help the younger players that are on their wings...[Malone] really plays the game the right way...I think [Novak] has gotten even more engaged defensively, and he’s been really good here as of late.”
- On Cole Smith, Warsofsky noted, “He makes defensemen turn around...He’s an experienced player. I know he’s a first-year guy, but he played four years at a good school and in important games. He knows how to play the game...Just keeping his identity night-to-night has probably been his challenge.”
- It looks like Connor Ingram is using the new Bauer Supreme Ultrasonic stick. It has a neat “ergo spine,” that cuts down on weight while the carbon layering ensures durability. Ingram was excellent against Grand Rapids but overplayed his positioning against Iowa on Saturday. The Wild were able to capitalize on his inconsistency as he works to return to form./
All statistics are courtesy of eliteprospects.com, theahl.com, or hand-tracked myself.