Oberg brings his own championship rep to Wolves

Oberg brings his own championship rep to Wolves
Ross Dettman / Chicago Wolves

The Chicago Wolves' championship reputation always gets mentioned when newcomers join the organization. Defenseman Evan Oberg is no different.

But with Oberg, that reputation goes both ways. Oberg played for the Norfolk Admirals -- then the AHL affiliate of the Tampa Bay Lightning -- during their magical 2011-12 Calder Cup-winning season. That team set a North American record by closing the regular season on a 28-game winning streak.

"Obviously it’s nice to win," said Oberg, a 6-0, 191-pound native of Forestburg, Alberta who signed with the Wolves in August. "You like that atmosphere, so I wanted to come to Chicago with the winning atmosphere. I was really excited."

It's been a bit of a rocky start for the Wolves, who face the defending Calder champions Grand Rapids Griffins at Allstate Arena tonight. Chicago (3-3-0-1) has yet to win consecutive games as coach John Anderson and the players continue to seek the right chemistry with a 28-man roster.

"That’s the thing when you have a lot of new faces -- you’re not sure who to put together and stuff," Oberg said. "We’re just feeling ourselves out here. It’s going to start coming together and guys will start feeling more comfortable. It will be evident in the next couple weeks, I’m sure."

Like several of the Wolves, Oberg has shown flashes of his offensive potential. It was most evident against Rockford on Oct. 18 when he scored his first goal of the season and added two assists during a frustrating 5-3 loss at Allstate.

The Wolves fell into a 3-0 hole in the first period, but rallied to tie it 3-3 when Oberg scored a power-play goal with 2:36 left in regulation. But the IceHogs answered 65 seconds later and added an empty-net goal to seal the victory.

"We showed a lot of character coming back, but when you come back and there’s a minute left and they get another one, it kinda hurts," said Oberg, who has one goal, three assists and eight PIMs in seven games.

A 25-year-old in his fifth pro season, Oberg has bounced around quite a bit, even earning the nickname "Yo-Yoberg" among Tampa Bay fans for the number of times he was recalled from Norfolk to the Lightning during the 2011-12 season.

After a two-year collegiate career at the University of Minnesota-Duluth, Oberg signed a free-agent deal with the Vancouver Canucks in 2009. He was traded to the Florida organization before his three-year, entry-level contract expired in February 2011. Ten months later he was shipped to the Lightning.

That was just in time to join the Admirals and get himself acclimated before the remarkable winning streak began Feb. 10. The record-breaking stretch reached 29 games including the playoffs, before they lost to the Manchester Monarchs in an Eastern Conference quarterfinal series.

No matter, the Admirals recovered from that setback and stormed through the rest of the playoffs to claim their first Calder Cup championship.

"We knew going into every game that we were going to win the game. It was that simple," Oberg said of the winning streak. "We didn’t think we were going to lose. Didn’t have a doubt in our mind ever. We’d get down a couple goals and we’d know that we were going to score two in the third to come back and win, and we did."

Now Oberg hopes he can help recreate even a little of the magic the Admirals experienced that season.

"The team bonding we had was amazing," Oberg said. "The chemistry was something else. If there’s some way I could bring that to this team, that would be great."

Find me on Twitter for live tweeting during tonight's game and all Wolves home games throughout the season.

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    Paul LaTour enters his fourth full season covering the Wolves for the Chicago Tribune. A freelance writer based in Aurora, LaTour previously worked as a sportswriter for the Naperville Sun after similar jobs in Texas and Colorado. On Jan. 18, 1968, his mother went into labor at a high school hockey game in Duluth, Minn., and gave birth to him early the next day. He's been hooked on hockey ever since.

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