I'll be honest. I have never given the Chicago Wolves much thought. Up until very recently, the only thing that came to mind when the Wolves were mentioned was Bill Sweatt since we played puck together as kids. But during these playoffs I've caught the fever, I've joined the pack. And you should too.
You probably need to get up to speed on who's who with the Wolves, I know I did. A combination of seeing a few games live during the playoffs and some digging around on the roster led me to the following, call it the anatomy of a wolf.
The Soul: Oscar Dansk. This didn't take any research or deep dives into statistics. I knew this before the National Anthem at the first game I attended. The sound of the crowd when Dansk takes the ice during starting lineups tells you everything you need to know about what he means to the fans.
The Head: Daniel Carr. He's had a productive 2019 postseason, registering 7 points (2G, 5A) across six games. Carr has great vision, knows where he needs to be, and how to get there. I was lucky enough to see it on full display when the Wolves knocked off the Iowa Wild to clinch their spot in the Western Conference Finals. Take a peek below, as Carr crashes the slot to guide in the redirect. You wanna talk heads up hockey? That play was short-handed.
The Heart: Curtis McKenzie. Every team needs its heart. The guy who you can count on through thick and thin. McKenzie fits that bill for these Wolves. Scoring goals, hustle plays, you name it, he's on it. When things turned scrappy in the first round against the Grand Rapids Griffins, he was in the thick of it. He's been scorching hot as of late, lighting the lamp five times over the past three games, with a hatty in one game. One of those, like Daniel Carr, was to close out the Wild. Classic breakout, great footwork to get the puck to his tape, and a snipe to the shelf to finish it off. More, please.
The Legs: T.J. Tynan. Herb Brooks put it best, "The Legs feed the Wolf." T.J. is the motor who keeps everything moving forward. No team can survive without its engine firing on all cylinders. He's an ideal teammate, as he's always looking make plays to set up the team for success. It shows in his results year after year, as he put up 71 points (12G 59A) in 2018-19, and led the AHL in assists. That, my friends, is a serious bushel of apples. Want another reason to love him? The dude's from Orland Park. His family may be reading this now. Hi Mom!
The Wildcard: Alex Gallant. No pack is complete without their wildcard. You never know what's gonna happen next in life, but you know darn well you want your wildcard there, just in case. If things get chippy in this next round, don't be surprised to see his face. Or fists.
This coming Friday, May 17th, the Western Conference Final begins, with our Chicago Wolves taking on the San Diego Gulls at 7:30 PM local time. You can watch this and any other Chicago Wolves home games on WCIU's U-Too channel, but if you can swing it, I couldn't more highly advise getting out to the All-State Arena to see it live. The pyro ahead of the starting lineups is electric. Wayne Messmer crushes the National Anthem, and the die-hard fans are awesome. You will learn a baker's dozen new chirps by the end of the first period, minimum. I've been lucky enough to get out to three games during this run, and I'm kicking myself for waiting so long. Come on out, and we'll even pick up some of the tab. Enter promo code "ONTAP" when you check out to save a couple bucks. First round's on us!
I know every team has their own hashtag(s), but I'm gonna throw my own out into the ether, inspired by everyone's favorite hockey class clown, Lester Averman. #ThePackAttackIsBackJack. Go get 'em, boys.
Featured Photo: Ross Dettman/Chicago Wolves