As the calendar approaches the Fourth of July holiday in the United States and Canada Day to the north, many fans of hockey are enjoying summer. However, those in Chicago who follow the Carolina-affiliated Wolves witnessed a champion on Saturday night. With a 4-0 shutout from goaltender Alex Lyon, the Chicago Wolves claimed the Calder Cup 4-1 over the Springfield Thunderbirds.
The 2021-22 Wolves may be one of the most impressive teams assembled in recent AHL memory. With a combination of high-class veterans, plenty of young, developing talent, and elite goaltending, Chicago dominated the AHL this season. Now that the Wolves are champions, let’s take a look back.
The Wolves controlled the entire game on Saturday night. In fact, Alex Lyon stopped all 28 shots he faced, allowing the Wolves to cruise to a 4-0 win. Tallies from Max Lajoie, Andrew Poturalski, David Gust, and playoff MVP Josh Leivo carried Chicago to the victory.
Throughout the playoffs, goaltending has been perhaps the number one constant for the Wolves. Whether it was Lyon or Pyotr Kochetkov in net, the duo finished the playoffs with 2.03 and 1.65 GAAs, respectively. Among all goaltenders in the playoffs, the Wolves had the second- and fourth-lowest GAAs for their goalies.
Fun Facts of the Season and Playoffs
- Throughout the playoffs, the Wolves only lost one game in regulation. That loss came in Game 3 of the Central Division final against the Milwaukee Admirals.
- In addition, the Wolves never lost consecutive games in regulation all season long. The numbers show the resilience and team’s ability to bounce back after a loss.
- Josh Leivo was awarded the Jack A. Butterfield trophy for playoff MVP. Leivo finished with 29 points (15 goals, 14 assists) in 18 games.
- Head coach Ryan Warsofsky became the youngest head coach since Peter Laviolette in 1999 to win the Calder Cup. Warsofsky is just 34 years of age. Despite his youth, he is already proving his quality as a head coach and will be in the NHL sooner than later.
For starters, congratulations to the Chicago Wolves. What a season the 2021-22 campaign was. Although covering the team from afar, they provided winning hockey to a city that craves it. In addition, it’s hard to think this team won’t be competitive again in the fall and have another shot at running it back as defending champs.
There are so many impressive performances from this season. Poturalski leading the league in points, Stefan Noesen leading the league in goals, incredible goaltending from all the team’s goalies, the list goes on and on. A number of young players stepped up, especially Jack Drury. Overall, this roster was built to win and they accomplished that in 2021-22.
Also, head coach Ryan Warsofsky deserves a lot of credit. In the 2021 shortened season, Zoom calls after every game with the press allowed those who cover the team to really get to know Warsofsky. He is a great leader, a great motivator, and a coach that would be incredibly easy to play for. Watching his journey has truly been a joy.
What’s On Tap Next?
The team will celebrate all summer long. However, hockey will return to Allstate Arena sooner than we think. With October roughly three months away, a short offseason will welcome the Wolves back when the team raises the banner in Rosemont. For now, the business of the offseason will heat up, creating plenty of speculation regarding roster construction with the Wolves. For now, the Wolves will celebrate their fifth title in franchise history and enjoy the rest of summer.
See you all in the fall!
Follow On Tap Sports Net on social media!