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Wolves Weekly: Season Opener, Warm to Norfolk, and Others

After the first week of the AHL season, the Chicago Wolves played their season opener, in addition to plenty of other news this week.
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In our inaugural edition of Wolves Weekly, a new weekly publication I'll be writing each week of the season, there is quite a bit to discuss. These Wolves Weekly's will comprise of news, thoughts, and opinions on what is happening with the Chicago Wolves each week. Without further ado, let's dive into some notes from the first week of the season.

Season Opener

The Wolves opened the season at Allstate Arena. Saturday's opener was the first game in front of fans in 585 days. The last time the Wolves played at Allstate Arena? It was March 8 against the same Rockford IceHogs they opened against to begin the 2021-22 campaign.

The Wolves' 2021-22 roster looks vastly different than the one that skated at Triphahn Ice Arena during the 2021 season. However, the 2021-22 team still has plenty of talent to ensure the Wolves have a great season.

Opening Loss

The Wolves unfortunately dropped the opener on Saturday, 5-3, to the Rockford IceHogs. Despite the loss, the Wolves outshot the in-state visitors 43-22. Rockford goalie Arvid Söderblom was sensational in his first AHL game. If not for the Swede's performance, the Wolves very well may have taken their home opener.

Despite the loss, Ryan Suzuki tallied his first goal of the season, off to a fast start in the 2021-22 campaign. It took the younger Suzuki brother until his fifth game last season to tally his first goal, so seeing him jump out to an early start is a major plus. After five goals and five assists in 2021, Suzuki will look to improve on those numbers and is off to a strong start in doing so.

In addition, all three Wolves goals came either a man up or a man down on Saturday. Suzuki's tally was shorthanded, while C.J. Smith's and Eric Gelinas' tallies were on the power play. The lack of goals at five-on-five is not ideal, but one game isn't necessarily a good indication of the team's play. If anything, its a positive that the Wolves can strike on special teams.

Beck Warm to ECHL

On Tuesday morning, the Wolves announced that goaltender Beck Warm was sent to the Norfolk Admirals of the ECHL. Wolves fans have likely heard Warm's name before, and that's because he was a sensation with the team last season.

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In 14 games with the Wolves in 2021, Warm compromised a 8-4-1 record with two shoutouts for Chicago. In addition, the Whistler, British Columbia native sported a 2.74 goals-against average and .914 save percentage as well. Warm performed so well with the Wolves that he earned himself a contract with the Hurricanes after signing an AHL deal prior to the season.

However, based on the move, it appears that Warm was beat out by Alex Lyon and Eetu Makiniemi for the top two goaltending positions with Chicago. Lyon spent the last five seasons with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms before joining the Hurricanes organization this season. As for Makiniemi, he was a fourth-round selection by the Hurricanes in 2017 and spent the last few seasons in Europe before venturing to North America for the 2021-22 season.

Given the nature of COVID-19, injuries, and other obstacles throughout a NHL season, Warm may see time with the Wolves this season. However, his demotion to Norfolk gives him regular playing time rather than splitting the net in Chicago with the other two.

Bob Nardella

Wolves assistant coach and former player Bob Nardella was selected to the National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame over the weekend. Nardella played his professional career in the Italian Hockey League, the DEL (Germany's top league), the AHL, and the old IHL.

Currently, Nardella serves as one of two assistant coaches to head coach Ryan Warsofsky. After an incredible playing career that included 402 points in 556 career games across all leagues, Nardella's latest hockey adventure is focused on building the next great group of Carolina Hurricanes.

CM Punk

Yes, this is a hockey article but we are talking a little wrestling. One of the newest AEW personalities is not afraid to remind people he is from Chicago. So much so that he sported a Chicago Wolves shirt on Saturday's AEW Dyanmite.

Not only are the Wolves looking to hook up the Windy City native with a jersey, but the popular wrestling personality is bringing awareness and love to his hometown. Nothing very analytical or critical here, simply sharing something fun from the weekend.

What's On Tap Next?

The Wolves play their next game on Friday, October 22 in Milwaukee against the Admirals. The two teams will once again play on Saturday, October 23 as a part of a home-and-home between the geographic rivals. Wolves fans will see a lot of familiar names from the 2021 season. Those familiar names will pose the next challenge for the Wolves en route to the Calder Cup Playoffs. Both games this weekend are scheduled for 7:00 p.m. CDT.