Another week, another check-in with the Chicago Wolves. After splitting their weekend games against the Manitoba Moose and Milwaukee Admirals, the Wolves continue to sit atop the Central Division. With a 6-2-0-0 record thus far, the Wolves look primed for another run at the Central Division title.
Ahead of the team's three-in-three this weekend against Rockford and Toronto, the Wolves have been busy. Between roster transactions and player performances, there is plenty to discuss the in the world of Wolves hockey. Without further ado, let's dive in.
On Tuesday, the Wolves made a number of moves at the goaltender position. Over the weekend, Hurricanes goaltender Antti Raanta suffered an injury. Due to an upper body injury, Raanta appears to be out for the foreseeable future, leading to the Alex Lyon call-up by the Hurricanes this week.
In addition, Beck Warm has returned to the Wolves after starting the season in Norfolk of the ECHL. In five games with the Admirals this season, Warm is 4-1 with a 2.48 goals-against average and .921 save percentage. Last season with the Wolves, Warm was so good that he earned a contract with the Hurricanes after joining Chicago on an AHL contract.
Eetu Maikniemi started both games for the Wolves over the weekend due to the goalie carousel. Alex Lyon was set to start on Saturday, but with the impending roster moves, he was sat in favor of the Finland native.
Josh Leivo Moving On Up
The Hurricanes didn't stop with Lyon's promotion this week. The team also announced that forward Josh Leivo joined the big club.
In only three games this season, Leivo has tallied three assists for the Wolves. Perhaps a move up to Carolina will give him an opportunity to play more regularly, even if it's in a bottom six role.
To take Leivo's place on the roster, the Wolves have recalled forward Stephen Harper from the Fort Wayne Comets of the ECHL.
Harper debuted last season in the ECHL and was named MVP of the Kelly Cup playoffs, leading Fort Wayne to capture their first championship in franchise history. In five games this season, Harper has tallied three goals and six assists. He has been excellent at the ECHL level and now has a chance to prove himself in the AHL.
Jalen Chatfield's Scoring Streak
Dating back to Halloween, Jalen Chatfield is riding a three-game goal streak with the Wolves. In eight games this season, Chatfield has five points (four goals, one assist) and has been a steady presence on the blue line for Chicago. Entering the team's three-in-three this weekend, Chatfield's goal streak has a chance to be extended.
Chatfield is experiencing an offensive breakout in 2021-22. In three seasons with the Utica Comets, the 25-year-old defenseman never tallied more than seven points in a season. In fact, since that seven-point campaign in his first pro season, Chatfield hasn't tally a goal prior to this season. His four goals in eight games now double his career total that he tallied in 142 AHL games.
For both the Wolves and Chatfield, there is hope his offensive touch continues this season. As seen in Sunday's win, the blue line's ability to contribute offensively will be a necessity if the Wolves plan to succeed this season. In fact, the team's top line tallied one point as a unit all weekend, which came on a C.J. Smith assist. There will be times when others need to step up and carry the load offensively. So far this season, the blue line has stepped up when needed.
Three Games, Three Days
This weekend, the Wolves play their first three-in-three of the season. On Friday, the Wolves travel to Rockford to take on the IceHogs before returning for back-to-back games with the Toronto Marlies at Allstate Arena on Saturday and Sunday. This weekend presents a major test for the Wolves, as the team's depth will certainly be utilized. Expect to see some reserve players this weekend, in addition to both Makiniemi and Warm seeing time in net.
The IceHogs may be 3-5-1-0 this season, but one of their three wins came against the Wolves back in October. The Wolves know they have to bring their A-game this weekend if they intend on taking at least two of the three games. As for the Marlies, they are 5-4-0-0 as of Thursday and will also likely present a tough task, especially with less than 24 hours between puck drops on Saturday and Sunday.
What's On Tap Next?
The Wolves travel to Rockford tomorrow for a 7:00 p.m. CST date with the IceHogs. In addition, it's Military Appreciation Weekend at Allstate Arena on Saturday and Sunday. Puck drops against the Marlies are scheduled for 7:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. CST, respectively. It is a perfect opportunity to get out and support the Wolves at home.