Wolfin’ It Down: The Wolves Split the Cauldron with the Barons in Week 24

BOOM. (Image: Erik Swedlund/flickr)

Yep, it’s me again, different team this time. I happen to have this problem, you see—I’m friends with a certain Sarah Connors, who loves the AHL, and she’s turned me into an AHL lover as well. Which is all fine and good, except then you get attached and fall in love with your team, only to find that half your babies end up playing somewhere in Europe and the other half stays in the AHL for a good long while. But every so often, some of your babies grow up from faily AHL babies into faily NHL babies, and sometimes they even outgrow their fail! So all in all, following the AHL can be a heartbreaking gamble, and for some reason I’ve decided I’m on board. So in addition to following four (sometimes five) NHL teams, I am now following three AHL teams.

I clearly make bad life choices.

The Wolves had a pretty chill week, with only two games on the weekend, both against the Oklahoma City Barons, who took on Rockford on Friday before coming to Chicago for back-to-back contests. Both teams came in tied for fifth place in the West Division with 79 points each, making these a very important weekend. Coming off a high after defeating Rockford last weekend (I’m still upset, guys), the Wolves cooled down a little too much this weekend and managed to hand the first game to the Barons before actually showing up to work, with a much better game on Sunday. After the first game catapulted the Barons into third place, the second game allowed the Wolves to reclaim some ground, as they now stand tied with the Barons and the Peoria Rivermen in fourth place.

Here’s the game-by-game for week 24:

Saturday, March 19 vs Oklahoma City– This game featured the Wolves wearing their commemorative St. Patrick’s Day jerseys again, which would then be auctioned/raffled to benefit Easter Seals Metropolitan Chicago and Chicago Wolves Charities—so it definitely started with very good intentions. The Barons scored first on a shortie by Colin McDonald (coming off a hat trick at Rockford the night before) at 8:09. The Wolves tied the game a little over a minute later, with Andrey Zubarev burying a pass from Andre Deveaux. Riley Holzapfel gave the Wolves a lead at 14:26, and so they went into the second period with a precarious one-goal lead. 1:35 into the second period, Ben Ondrus scored a power play goal, which Bryan Helmer followed with another power play goal at 3:24, giving the Barons a 3-2 lead. Jesse Gimblett extended the lead with barely six minutes remaining in the second period, and the Wolves found themselves coming into the third with a two-goal deficit. The third period showed the frantic Wolves trying to pull it together, and it wasn’t until there were less than four minutes left to play that Spencer Machacek pulled the Wolves within one. Sadly, the late surge was not enough, and the Wolves fell to the Barons 4-3, vaulting the Barons to a tie for third place in the West’s tight playoff race.

Sunday, March 20 vs Oklahoma City (again)- This game saw the return of the Barons to the Allstate Arena, looking for another victory. However, the Wolves’ special teams that failed to click the night before showed up on Sunday ready to retake their spot in the Western Conference standings—so much that Edward Pasquale stopped all 34 shots he faced, recording his first professional shutout, which was also the first the shutout for the Wolves so far this season. Tim Miller put the Wolves up on the board first at 11:37 in the first period. At 11:13 in the second, Jason Krog added his own power play goal to take them up 2-1, with Darren Haydar assisting for the second time that night. Mark Matheson extended the lead with another power play goal less than a minute and a half later, on yet another Haydar assist. After failing to capitalize on a five-on-three power play, Jason Krog redeemed the Wolves by making it 4-0 at 11:36 of the third period, putting the final tally against the Barons. Not bad for a team that handed a game away the night before!

This next week, the Wolves will once again have the week off , taking on three different teams this weekend: Friday, March 25 at the Milwaukee Admirals, Saturday, March 26 vs. the Hamilton Bulldogs, and Sunday, March 27 vs. the Rockford Ice Hogs.

The game against the IceHogs will be a peanut-free day to make sure fans with peanut allergies can enjoy the game, and every ticket bought through the community relations department will have $4 donated to the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN). Well done!

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