Wolves win Central Division Championship, advance to Western Conference Finals
The Chicago Wolves earned a 3-1 victory over the Iowa Wild in Game 6 of the Central Division Finals on Monday night at Allstate Arena to reach the Western Conference Finals. The Central Division champion Chicago Wolves will face the Pacific Division champion San Diego Gulls in the third round of the 2019 Calder Cup Playoffs. The best-of-seven Western Conference Finals series begins Friday, May 17, at Allstate Arena.
Forwards Curtis McKenzie, Daniel Carr and Cody Glass scored for Chicago (7-4), which will face either San Diego or Bakersfield in the best-of-seven Western Conference Finals. Goaltender Oscar Dansk (6-3) stopped 23 of 24 shots in the win.
“We’ve have a great team all year,” McKenzie said. “This group has been unbelievable for each other and stepping up for each other – just playing so hard for each other. That’s why we’re a special group.”
Defenseman Hunter Warner scored the lone goal for Iowa (5-6) while goaltender Andrew Hammond (5-6) recorded 23 saves.
After a scoreless 20 minutes, the momentum swung in the Wolves’ favor starting at the far end of the ice when Dansk robbed Iowa’s Kyle Rau of a 2-on-1 shorthanded opportunity early in the second period — getting his right pad on the puck in time to keep the game scoreless.
Fifty-five seconds later, McKenzie broke through on the same Wolves power play with a snipe from the left faceoff dot that beat Hammond at the far post at 4:27. That marked his fifth goal in a six-period stretch.
Warner tied the game on Iowa’s power play at 13:22 with a wrist shot from the point, but two quick goals late in the second would send the Wolves into the intermission with a 3-1 lead and eventually be the difference-makers in the game.
Carr scored the Wolves’ second shorthanded goal of the series at 17:33, chipping a beautiful backhand pass from forward Gage Quinney inches across the goal line.
Glass scored just 25 seconds later at 17:58, capitalizing on a shot that hit Stefan Matteau high and dropped just outside the crease. Hammond neither saw the puck nor Glass cutting in across the top of the crease and the rookie was able to swing the puck around Hammond and into the net to cap the 3-1 victory.
The Wolves will have home-ice advantage for the Western Conference Finals if they face San Diego, but will hit the road first if they play Bakersfield. For the best ticket deals, visit ChicagoWolves.com or call 1-800-THE-WOLVES.
Head coach Rocky Thompson’s Wolves, who defeated the Grand Rapids Griffins and the Iowa Wild during the first two rounds, own the home-ice advantage as they pursue the fifth league championship in the franchise’s 25-year history. American Hockey League rules call for a 2-3-2 series when teams are located more than 300 miles apart, so the Wolves host Games 1 and 2 as well as Games 6 and 7 if necessary.
The official schedule for the Western Conference Finals:
|Game 1||Friday, May 17||Allstate Arena||7 p.m.|
|Game 2||Saturday, May 18||Allstate Arena||7 p.m.|
|Game 3||Wednesday, May 22||Pechanga Arena||9 p.m.|
|Game 4||Friday, May 24||Pechanga Arena||9 p.m.|
|Game 5*||Saturday, May 25||Pechanga Arena||9 p.m.|
|Game 6*||Monday, May 27||Allstate Arena||7 p.m.|
|Game 7*||Wednesday, May 29||Allstate Arena||7 p.m.|
This marks the first postseason meeting between the Wolves and the Gulls. In fact, the teams have met just twice in regular-season play since San Diego joined the AHL prior to the 2015-16 season. The Wolves posted a 3-1 win on Dec. 6, 2017, at Allstate Arena and the Gulls responded with a 2-1 win on Jan. 10, 2018, at Pechanga Arena.
San Diego’s roster features 20 skaters who played a combined 326 games for the NHL’s Anaheim Ducks this season. Gulls head coach Dallas Eakins spent four seasons as a Wolves defenseman and earned championship rings playing for the 2000 Turner Cup and 2002 Calder Cup squads. When Eakins worked as the Edmonton Oilers’ head coach in 2014-15, Rocky Thompson served as one of his assistants.
Every home game throughout the postseason will be broadcast on The U Too, which can be found over the air on 26.2 and via cable or satellite on XFinity 230, Dish Network 48, RCN 35 and WOW 170. Fans can see all Calder Cup Playoff games for just $24.99 at TheAHL.com/AHLTV.
To celebrate postseason hockey in Chicago, there’s free parking for all games at Allstate Arena courtesy of your Chicagoland and Northwest Indiana Kia dealers. The arena’s concession stands will feature discounted prices on many items, including beer, soda, hot dogs and pretzels.
Four teams remain in the fight for the 2019 Calder Cup. The winner of the Chicago-San Diego series meets the Eastern Conference Finals champion — either Atlantic Division representative Charlotte or North Division titlist Toronto — in the Calder Cup Finals.
To purchase a playoff package or a playoff flex pack, visit ChicagoWolves.com/Playoffs or call 1-800-THE-WOLVES. Individual tickets for all playoff games also can be purchased by visiting Ticketmaster.com, calling Ticketmaster at 800-745-3000 or visiting the Allstate Arena box office.
Latest posts by Ray Hanania (see all)