IT'S ABOUT TO GET ROWDY
The Chicago Wolves have 13 games left in the regular-season schedule and every game counts. Chicago entered Sunday's game with the possibility of sliding to third place in the Central Division - the Iowa Wild, Sunday's adversary, could have taken over the No. 2 spot with a regulation win. However, after suffering three consecutive losses for the first time since Nov. 26 to Dec. 2, the Wolves rose to the occasion and upended the Wild - previously riding a five-game point streak - in regulation time. The victory allowed the Wolves to create a three-point gap between themselves and Iowa.
The Wild, Grand Rapids Griffins and Rockford IceHogs are all within a point of each other in the 3-4-5 spots of the Central Division. All three opponents are hot on the Wolves' heels as the four teams battle for a slot in the second season - 2018 Calder Cup Playoffs.
The Manitoba Moose continue to own the No. 1 spot in the Central Division - as they have most of the year. They own a seven-point lead on the second-place Wolves. However, they are no longer untouchable as they have been much more average with a 5-4-0-1 record in their last 10 games. They are the only team in the Central Division with a magic number less than 15 to clinch a playoff position.
The Wolves are amid a stretch in which they are playing six games in nine days. For Games 3 and 4, Chicago heads to The Land to face the Central Division bottom-dwelling Cleveland Monsters. The Monsters are all but mathematically eliminated for the postseason. However, they can still create some chaos for their Central Division opponents, especially the Wolves and Moose - both have a set of games remaining against the Monsters. Grand Rapids, Iowa and the Milwaukee Admirals each only have one game left against Cleveland. Rockford faced Cleveland for the final time of the 2017-18 campaign on Feb. 13 - the Monsters beat them 3-1. The other seven games on Cleveland's schedule are Pacific Division enemies.
Unlike Cleveland, 12 of Chicago's final 13 games are against division opponents. The Wolves still have three games with Milwaukee and Rockford; two with Cleveland and Iowa; and one against each Grand Rapids and Manitoba.
Chicago needs to be its own best advocate and take the reins for the final 13 contests to decide its playoff fate.
Sunday, March 18 (at) Chicago 7, Iowa 3
- Chicago avoided a three-game skid in the season series against Iowa.
- Forward Teemu Pulkkinen accounted for two goals and earned three points while Beau Bennett and Zac Leslie collect three assists apiece.
- Forwards Tomas Hyka, Keegan Kolesar and Stefan Matteau and defenseman Jason Garrison all contributed a goal and assist for two points each.
- Center Tobias Lindberg accounted for Chicago's seventh marker.
- In his first appearance since Feb. 9, Max Lagace made 25 saves in the win.
Saturday, March 17 Rockford 3, (at) Chicago 2
- The Wolves fell to the IceHogs in back-to-back games for the first time this season.
- Captains Brandon Pirri and Paul Thompson scored for Chicago.
- Goaltender Oscar Dansk made 33 saves as he suffered his first regulation loss with the Wolves.
The 26-year-old skated in just one game last week, but collected three assists to help the Chicago Wolves throttle the Iowa Wild 7-3.
The three-point effort marked the 10th of the season for Bennett.
Additionally, his collective 43 points (10G, 33A) is his career- high with a team since his rookie campaign in 2012-13.
The California native ranks fourth in team scoring.
The rookie wing collected one goal and two assists through two games with the Chicago Wolves last weekend. Kolesar also logged two shots on goal and a +4 plus/ minus rating. On Sunday, the Winnipeg native registered two points. Of the seven games in which he has scored, three have been multi-point efforts.
The 24-year-old registered three assists in Sunday's 7-3 shellacking over the Iowa Wild.
Leslie set up Teemu Pulkkinen's second goal of the game that would stand as the game- winner. Since joining the Chicago Wolves on Feb. 5, Leslie has appeared in 14 games and collected 10 points (3G, 7A), including a power- play goal and two game-winners. Prior to coming to Chicago, Leslie appeared in 26 games with the Ontario Reign and only collected five points (G, 4A).
Through two games last weekend, the 26-year-old Pulkkinen collected two goals and an assist for three points.
The native of Finland registered all three of his points in Sunday's contest against his former team, the Iowa Wild. His second goal would stand as the game-winner in the 7-3 romp at Allstate Arena. Pulkkinen owns 49 points (19G, 30A) on the season - he resides second among Wolves skaters in both points and goals.
Tuesday, March 20 at Cleveland^ Quicken Loans Arena 6 p.m.
Thursday, March 22 at Cleveland^ Quicken Loans Arena 6 p.m.
Saturday, March 24 at Rockford # BMO Harris Bank Center 7 p.m.
Sunday, March 25 vs. Grand Rapids # Allstate Arena 5 p.m.
Wednesday, March 28 vs. Iowa^ Allstate Arena 7 p.m.
All times Central
^AHL Live only
*The U Too
Visit ChicagoWolves.com for a complete broadcast schedule; all games stream on AHLLive.com
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