Wolves win Western Finals, advance to Calder Cup championship round

Wolves win Western Finals, advance to Calder Cup championship round
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Wolves win Western Finals, advance to Calder Cup championship round

The Chicago Wolves defeated the San Diego Gulls on Monday taking Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals, and will advance to the Calder Cup Championship against the Charlotte Checkers hockey team with th efirst game on Saturday at Bojangles Coliseum. This is the CHicago Wolves’ first Calder Cup Championship since winning in 2008 

The Chicago Wolves are headed to the Calder Cup Finals for the first time since 2008 after earning a 3-1 victory over the San Diego Gulls in Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals on Monday night at Allstate Arena.

After the teams played scoreless hockey for 50-plus minutes, forward Curtis McKenzie scored a pair of goals while forward Keegan Kolesar added another for Chicago (11-6).

The Wolves received the Robert W. Clarke Trophy that goes to the American Hockey League’s Western Conference champion for the fourth time. Oscar Dansk (9-5) saved 29 shots to help the Wolves best the Gulls 4-2 in the best-of-seven series.

The Wolves and the Charlotte Checkers open the 2019 Calder Cup Finals on Saturday in Charlotte. The Wolves host Games 3-5 on June 5, 6 and 8 at Allstate Arena.

Calder Cup Finals schedule, Chicago Wolves vs the Charlotte Checkers

Calder Cup Finals schedule, Chicago Wolves vs the Charlotte Checkers

“We’re really excited,” said Wolves head coach Rocky Thompson. “It’s a lot of hard work to get to this point. We’ll enjoy it tonight and get right back to work tomorrow.”

Sam Carrick scored the lone goal for San Diego (9-7) while netminder Kevin Boyle (3-3) recorded 25 saves.

After two scoreless periods, McKenzie finally broke through at the 12:28 mark of the third period, tipping a shot from defenseman Nic Hague over Boyle’s blocker to give the Wolves a 1-0 lead.

Just 19 seconds later, Kolesar tipped a blast from defenseman Griffin Reinhart between Boyle’s pads at 12:47, putting the Wolves up 2-0.

“It’s another game we just found a way to get through,” said McKenzie, who captained the Texas Stars to the 2018 Calder Cup Finals. “For a lot of the game, we probably weren’t the better team. But Oscar was so good in the net for us. And, again, we found a way to get through – which has been our season all along.”

Carrick tallied a goal on the power play — slipping a rebound around Dansk’s pad at the 14:51 mark to put the Gulls within 2-1 — but McKenzie responded at 16:55 to seal the 3-1 victory. He skated a loose puck in on Boyle before shooting off the post and into the back of the net.

The Wolves face the Eastern Conference champion Checkers in the 2019 Calder Cup Finals that begin Saturday night at Bojangles’ Coliseum. Chicago hosts Games 3, 4 and 5 on June 5, 6 and 8 at Allstate Arena. All three home games will begin at 7 p.m. To get the best tickets, visit ChicagoWolves.com or call 1-800-THE-WOLVES.

The Chicago Wolves are back in the American Hockey League’s Calder Cup Finals for the first time since capturing the championship in 2008. The Wolves face the Eastern Conference champion Charlotte Checkers in the best-of-seven series that begins Saturday, June 1, at Bojangles’ Coliseum.

Head coach Rocky Thompson’s Wolves, who won the Central Division and then defeated the Grand Rapids Griffins, Iowa Wild and San Diego Gulls to capture the Robert W. Clarke Trophy that goes to the Western Conference champion, become the seventh team in the franchise’s 25-year history to reach the Finals. Chicago won the Calder Cup in 2002 and 2008 as well as the International Hockey League’s Turner Cup in 1998 and 2000. The Wolves fell in the 2005 Calder Cup Finals and the 2001 Turner Cup Final.

Charlotte, the Atlantic Division champion, led all 31 AHL teams during the regular season with 110 points and a .724 winning percentage to claim home-ice advantage throughout the postseason. 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 3, 4 and 5.

The official schedule for the Calder Cup Finals:

Game 1 Saturday, June 1 Bojangles’ Coliseum 5 p.m.
Game 2 Sunday, June 2 Bojangles’ Coliseum 5 p.m.
Game 3 Wednesday, June 5 Allstate Arena 7 p.m.
Game 4 Thursday, June 6 Allstate Arena 7 p.m.
Game 5* Saturday, June 8 Allstate Arena 7 p.m.
Game 6* Thursday, June 13 Bojangles’ Coliseum 6 p.m.
Game 7* Friday, June 14 Bojangles’ Coliseum 6 p.m.

These serve as the first games between the Wolves and the Checkers since Charlotte shifted from the Western Conference to the Eastern Conference prior to the 2017-18 season. Chicago and Charlotte last met in the 2017 Central Division Semifinals when the Wolves claimed the best-of-five series with a 3-2 home win in Game 5. While the Wolves don’t return any players from that series, the Checkers’ roster features eight holdovers. That includes right wing Andrew Poturalski, the leading scorer in the 2019 Calder Cup Playoffs with 8 goals and 10 assists.

Every home game 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 Finals games for just $24.99 at TheAHL.com/AHLTV.

All fans attending Calder Cup Finals games at Allstate Arena receive free parking courtesy of your Chicagoland and Northwest Indiana Kia dealers. The arena’s concession stands will feature discounted prices on beer, soda, hot dogs, pretzels and other goodies.

To purchase Calder Cup Finals ticket packages, visit ChicagoWolves.com/Playoffs or call 1-800-THE-WOLVES. Single-game tickets also can be purchased by visiting Ticketmaster.com, calling Ticketmaster (800-745-3000) or visiting the Allstate Arena box office.

Ray Hanania

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