Wolves Insider: Huge Weekend Ahead
The Chicago Wolves are only two weeks into the 2019-20 season, but the organization already has reached one of the highlight weekends on the calendar. Not only are the three hockey games bigger than normal, but the plans for the games at Allstate Arena are outsized as well.
The Wolves open their three-games-in-three-days weekend on Friday at Rockford for the first Illinois Lottery Cup contest of the season. This marks the ninth year in a row that the Illinois Lottery rewards the best American Hockey League team in the Land of Lincoln with the Illinois Lottery Cup. The Wolves have owned the Cup for each of the last three seasons. Hockey fans throughout the Chicago area can catch Friday's game on My50 Chicago.
On Saturday, the Wolves welcome Rockford to Allstate Arena as the team hosts its inaugural Pride Night. In addition to helping Chicago's Center on Halsted ($5 from each ticket purchased specifically for Pride Night goes there), the Wolves are recognizing IMPACT wrestler Kiera Hogan and 13-year-old Buffalo Grove resident Molly Pinta while commemorating National Coming Out Month and letting everyone know hockey is for everyone.
On Sunday afternoon, the Wolves host the Milwaukee Admirals as the traditional rivals kick off their season series on the first of 10 Little Debbie Sundays. The first 1,000 kids to enter Allstate Arena receive a Brookfield Zoo admission pass. There's free sign-making, face-painting and caricature portraits on the concourse and a postgame autograph session with Wolves players.
ADDING FIREPOWER TO THE SQUAD
The Wolves and their NHL partner, the Vegas Golden Knights, made several transactions last week designed to make both squads even better. While Vegas added Wolves goaltender Oscar Dansk to replace the injured Malcolm Subban, the Golden Knights sent center Nicolas Roy and defenseman Jimmy Schuldt to the Wolves.
Roy, a force on last year's Charlotte Checkers squad that defeated the Wolves in the Calder Cup Finals, joined the team Saturday night and immediately became the top line's center. He also joined the top power-play and penalty-kill units. Schuldt, a finalist for the 2019 Hobey Baker Award that went to the top player in college player, immediately became the quarterback of the power play.
NATIONAL DWARFISM AWARENESS MONTH
Before Sunday's game, Justin Sata performs the ceremonial puck drop to point the spotlight on National Dwarfism Awareness Month. Justin, the 10-year-old son of Wolves senior vice president Jon Sata, was born with achondroplasia (the most common form of dwarfism). He works as a Wolves locker-room attendant on game days and has formed a tight bond with all of the players. For an example, here's a video of the Wolves celebrating immediately after capturing the 2019 Western Conference championship. Yes, that's former defenseman Zac Leslie with Justin.
The Elmhurst native handed both games over the weekend at San Antonio and earned his first win with the Wolves. Sparks rejected 56 of 59 shots (.949 save percentage) and all three shootout attempts while playing 122 minutes at the AT&T Center. With goaltending partner Oscar Dansk recalled to Vegas on Saturday, Sparks should get most of the work this week.
The 20-year-old Sweden native struck again Saturday night at San Antonio. With neither team able to score during the first 46 minutes, Elvenes picked up a Rampage turnover in the offensive zone and rifled it home. Elvenes leads the Wolves in goals (2), assists (3) and points (5). Not bad for a rookie who has played just three professional games in North America.
Quinney has been a force in all three Wolves games this season. In Saturday's 2-1 win at San Antonio, Quinney made the difference as the only player in the three-round shootout to deliver. In the third period, Quinney had the presence of mind to lift a Rampage player's stick. That enabled a San Antonio pass to go straight to Lucas Elvenes for the Wolves' first goal.
WEEKEND REWIND (1-1-0-0)
SATURDAY, OCT. 12: CHICAGO 2, (at) SAN ANTONIO 1 (SO)
Center Gage Quinney scored in the first round of the shootout and goaltender Garret Sparks made it stand up at AT&T Center as the Wolves earned their first win of the year.
Forward Lucas Elvenes snapped a scoreless tie 6:45 into the third period with his second goal of the season.
Sparks stopped 32 of 33 shots in regulation and overtime and all three shootout attempts.
FRIDAY, OCT. 11: SAN ANTONIO 3, CHICAGO 0
Former Wolves goaltender Ville Husso stopped all 26 shots he faced to lead the Rampage to the victory at AT&T Center.
San Antonio scored a pair of power-play goals (by Nathan Walker and Derrick Pouliot) while Walker added an empty-net goal with 1:31 left. The Wolves went 0 for 6 on the power play.
Goaltender Garret Sparks stopped 24 of 26 shots.
NEXT FIVE GAMES
Friday, Oct. 18 at Rockford 7 p.m. MetroCentre My50 Chicago
Saturday, Oct. 19 vs. Rockford 7 p.m. Allstate Arena My50 Chicago
Sunday, Oct. 20 vs. Milwaukee 3 p.m. Allstate Arena My50 Chicago
Wednesday, Oct. 23 vs. Texas 11 a.m. Allstate Arena AHLTV
Saturday, Oct. 26 vs. Manitoba 7 p.m. Allstate Arena AHLTV
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