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Wolves land at top of AHL standings after weekend activity

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Petr Mrazek stood tall in a conditioning stint for the Wolves, earning a win against his old AHL team.

Courtesy of Chicago Wolves

Only two teams have recorded wins over the Chicago Wolves so far, as the Wolves continue their dominant AHL season. The first team to take down the Wolves, ending a seven-game winning streak at the start of the season, was the Grand Rapids Griffins, who showed the Wolves at that time that their play off the puck needed to improve.

The Wolves defeated the Griffins in their next meeting, but due to COVID-related postponements, haven’t met since. Last week, the teams met again, with Chicago entering the series on a four-game winning streak. And despite icing one relatively untested goaltender and one goaltender coming off a significant stint on the injured reserve list, the Wolves walked away victories against the Griffins and the Rockford IceHogs. Those wins increased the Wolves’ lead over the rest of the Central Division, as well as capturing the top spot in the AHL when ranked by points percentage.

Game 16: Chicago 5, Grand Rapids 2

Hello, Petr Mrazek! As Carolina Hurricanes fans already know, Mrazek popped over to the Wolves while the Hurricanes were already in Chicago, starting a game for the first time since he was injured on Jan. 30 against the Dallas Stars. The one-game conditioning stint marked Mrazek’s first AHL appearance since March 6, 2015, when he was coincidentally still a member of the Grand Rapids Griffins.

The Wolves didn’t exactly give Mrazek much time to adjust to his first game action in months. After a relatively quiet first period, which saw each team record eight shots, the Griffins took over in the second, putting 23 shots on the netminder, who turned away all of them.

Mrazek faced breakaways, odd-man rushes and plenty of shorthanded situations, tracking the puck well through a lot of sometimes disorganized traffic in front of him. He ultimately allowed only two goals, while the Wolves made the most of their somewhat limited chances at the other end, scoring five times (including one empty net goal) to secure the win for the team.

Scoring: Anthony Richard, 2 G; David Warsofsky, 1 G 1 A; Frederic Allard, 1 G 1 A; Tanner Jeannot, 1 G; Phil Tomasino, 2 A; Ryan Suzuki, 1 A; Sean Malone, 1 A; Drew Shore, 1 A; Cavan Fitzgerald, 1 A; Luke Evangelista, 1 A

In Net: Petr Mrazek, 0.956 Sv %, saved 43 of 45

Game 15: Chicago 4, Rockford 2

Some of the Wolves’ numbers this season have certainly been aided by the fact that they play the struggling Rockford IceHogs so often. Saturday was the sixth meeting of the teams this season and the Wolves have, to date, won them all.

Nashville Predators prospect Tanner Jeannot has been a stand-out player for the Wolves lately, scoring in his seventh consecutive game, the longest active goal-scoring streak in the AHL. Jeannot has always stood out as a bit of a pest in past seasons with the Milwaukee Admirals, but this season is experiencing the offensive success that’s largely eluded him previously.

Hurricanes prospects David Cotton and Dominik Bokk continue to grow more comfortable with the professional game, with both men chipping in goals on Saturday.

The Wolves have seen a rotating cast of goaltenders this season, with Predators prospect Devin Cooley earning the win this time. Coach Ryan Warsofsky pointed out that he expects his team to play the same in front of each goaltender, regardless of if it’s an experienced veteran or someone just finding his feet in the AHL. The team still gives up far too many shots for his liking, though, which will continue to be an area of focus for the Wolves.

“We just need to do a little bit better job in the danger areas of the ice,” Warsofsky said. “We get a little soft at times on pucks, puck management struggles at times, but goaltending-wise, it’s been really good and we need to do a better job so they don’t see so many chances.”

Scoring: Cole Smith, 1 G; David Cotton, 1 G; Tanner Jeannot, 1 G; Dominik Bokk, 1 G; Sean Malone, 2 A; David Warsofsky, 2 A; Ryan Suzuki, 1 A; Phil Tomasino, 1 A

In Net: Devin Cooley, 0.939 Sv %, saved 31 of 33