How quickly things change in the AHL. The Chicago Wolves broke a four-game losing streak by turning in one of their more dominant games of the season, and then turned around to give up seven goals the next night.
That’s the way things go in this league, where drastically different results in back-to-back games is more common than you’d think.
On Saturday, the Wolves headed to Iowa and proceeded to turn in a stellar first period, outshooting the Wild 19-7 and getting on the board first. In a true team performance, nine skaters registered points and every skater except for Blake Murray registered at least one shot on goal. (Brendan Perlini led the team with five.)
Their win over the Wild marked the first time since November 12 that they outshot their opponent — also Iowa, although the Wolves managed to lose that game. It was also the fourth consecutive game where the Wolves were perfect on the penalty kill.
The four goal outburst seemed like it could have signified a change in fortunes for the Wolves, who have struggled with scoring lately. But the next night was the total opposite in terms of performance. The penalty-filled affair — each team had five power play opportunities — led to a lopsided 7-0 win for the Wild.
Once again special teams could have made the difference for Chicago. The Wild scored three of their goals on the power play, while the Wolves once again couldn’t capitalize on any of their five times with the man advantage.
The Wolves did better at generating shots in this game, only getting outshot by three (as opposed to the eight times this season they’ve been outshot by double digits). However, the Wild generally kept the Wolves away from truly dangerous spots directly in front of goalie Zane McIntyre. The Wild, on the other hand, were able to approach Cale Morris with ease, with a significant number of shots coming from right around the blue paint.
In addition to welcoming back Stelio Mattheos and William Lagesson, both returning from injury, the Wolves also saw some changes on their blue line. David Farrance was traded to the Colorado Eagles, while the Wolves acquired Zack Hayes (Vegas Golden Knights) and Alex Green (Laval Rocket).
Hayes is in his third professional season. The 23 year old signed an AHL contract with the Henderson Silver Knights in April 2020 after going undrafted, and signed a three-year entry level contract with Vegas in March 2021. He has 18 points in 104 career AHL games; listed at 6’3” and 224 pounds, Hayes will bring some size and physicality to the Wolves blue line.
Green, 24, was selected in the fourth round of the 2018 draft by the Tampa Bay Lightning. He played for two seasons in the Lightning’s organization. After not being given a qualifying offer, Green signed as a free agent with Laval. He has 36 points in 105 career AHL games.
Game 17: Chicago Wolves 4, Iowa Wild 0
Scoring: Brendan Perlini, 1 G 1 A; Vasilt Ponomarev, 1 G 1 A; Griffin Mendel, 1 G; William Lagesson, 1 G; Jamieson Rees, 2 A; Malte Stromwall, 1 A; Max Lajoie, 1 A; Stelio Mattheos, 1 A; Noel Gunler, 1 A
In net: Zach Sawchenko, saved 23 of 23, 1.000 sv%
Game 18: Chicago Wolves 0, Iowa Wild 7
In net: Cale Morris, saved 24 of 31, 0.774 sv%