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Series preview: Chicago Wolves v Texas Stars

Patrick Boylan

I write the Wolves blog for ChicagoNow

The first-seed Chicago Wolves enter the American Hockey League divisional semifinal playoffs Friday against the Texas Stars. The Wolves downed the fourth seed Milwaukee Admirals 4-3 in a best of seven. Entering game five up 3-1 in the series, the Wolves dropped playoff game five 5-4, losing a three goal lead and game six 5-4 after tying the game.

Wolves Head Coach Don Lever says the team didn't play 60 solid minutes each game.

It was a lesson the Wolves might remember from playing the Stars on December 5th. Then, the sixth-place Wolves faced the first-place Stars. In a televised home game, the Wolves lost a two-point lead only to regain the lead. Despite out shooting the Stars and despite holding the Stars scoreless on eight power plays the Wolves lost the game 5-3.

Wolves Goalie Peter Mannino, with a save rate of 92.1 percent in the regular season, ranked fourth in the AHL. But Mannino is hot and cold. He started every game of the playoffs. But he struggled and was pulled from the net in games three and six.

Backing him is Drew MacIntyre. MacIntyre has stepped in as relief pulling three wins from the cold ashes of a game in the regular season.

Across the red line the Stars will start Brent Krahn. Krahn faced 127 shots on goal leading the Stars to a 15:5 goal advantage in their sweep of  the Chicago Blackhawks' AHL affiliate, the Rockford IceHogs. Krahn is posting a league leading post-season GAA of 1.25 and a save percentage of 96.1 percent.

Wolves Center Brett Sterling returned from injury to play game seven of the Milwaukee series. Sterling blasted through his freshman year as a pro in the 2006-7 season notching 55 goals and 97 points. Sterling has taken to playing in the goal mouth and receives regular beatings from opposing teams for staking that position. Sterling had 56 points in 55 regular season games this season.

Travis Morin started the season slowly for the Stars, but has caught fire in post season play. The center has put up seven points in four games. Jamie Benn is playing his freshman year in the pros. Benn played 82 games for the Dallas Stars this year scoring 41 points. He has put another six on his stats with the little Stars.

At this point, Krahn has been solid in the net while Mannino and MacIntyre have struggled to hold leads. The difference in goal tending gives a tip of the scales towards Texas in a long series.



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