One Sergey Andronov goal led to two career milestones for Chicago Wolves forwards Keith Aucoin and Mark Mancari. Andronov's goal Saturday night against Iowa, drew assists from both Aucoin and Mancari.
Aucoin's point moved him into a seventh-place tie on the AHL's all-time scoring list, while Mancari became the 87th player in AHL history to hit the 500-point mark. Later that night, Aucoin assisted on Ty Rattie's game-tying goal to take sole possession of seventh from Harry Pidhirny.
"I don’t think it matters what league you’re in, when you’re on a list like that it’s a great accomplishment," said Aucoin, who has 830 points in 732 AHL games spanning 12 seasons. "I didn’t know until after the game that I did it. It’s one of those things when my career is over that I’ll look back on."
Mancari finished the weekend with four assists, giving him 503 points in 594 AHL games over nine seasons. He admitted reaching the 500-point threshold had been "weighing" on him. It may have even contributed to his slow start to the season. More than half of his 23 points this season have come in his past 10 games (four goals, eight assists).
"Obviously you’re thinking about it, you’re hearing about it," Mancari said of the 500-point club. "I’m excited to be in that group. You don’t get there without good teammates and good players around you."
Aucoin said he was aware he was close to catching Jim Anderson for eighth place, which he did with a goal Dec. 22, but only because other people told him. He added he had no idea he only needed nine more points to pass Pidhirny as well.
"I thought there’d be a little more time before that," he said. "So I didn’t know until after the game and somebody said they saw it on the big screen after it happened."
NO SHORTAGE OF HOT HANDS THESE DAYS
Not even a month ago coach John Anderson lamented how no Wolves player had gone on an extended scoring tear this season. It didn't take long before multiple players anwered the call, a big reason the Wolves now sit in second place in the Midwest Division and have won seven of their past nine games (7-1-1-0).
First it was rookie Ty Rattie rattling off five goals and two assists in five games from Dec. 8-18. But within 10 days of that, another four players began hot streaks that are still ongoing -- Mancari, Aucoin, Sergey Andronov and Pat Cannone.
In the 10 games since Dec. 14, Mancari has picked up 12 points (four goals, eight assists) after totaling 11 points in his first 21 games.
"I’m feeling like I’m getting back to where I can be," Mancari said Sunday before adding two assists in the Wolves' 4-3 shootout win over Rockford. "I still think I have more to give. I had a slow start, but sometimes it happens and you gotta figure out a way to get back to what you do best. And I think I’m getting there."
Aucoin has three goals and seven assists in eight games since returning to the lineup Dec. 21 after missing nine games with a left ankle sprain.
Andronov is riding a career-best four-game point streak in which he's scored five goals with one assist. His streak includes his first career hat trick (at Lake Erie on Dec. 27) and missing two games when the parent Blues recalled him for a couple days to add depth, although he never cracked the lineup.
"I had three good days with an NHL team, so it was good experience," he said. "I just tried to not let (the time away from the Wolves) stand in my way, to keep working, play hard, work hard. Just help my team."
Meanwhile, Cannone has scored four goals and added three assists in nine games since Dec. 18. He scored goals in back-to-back games last weekend for the fourth time in his AHL career, but first for the Wolves.
He said being on a line with Mancari has played a big role in his own production of late.
"Just trying to do the little things right, go to the net and try to generate scoring chances," Cannone said of his approach. "I feel like Mancari can really shoot the puck, so you know, when he gets it where it’s going, you just try to be there for the second opportunities."
BINNINGTON SENT BACK TO K-ZOO AFTER EARNING FIRST AHL WIN
Rookie goalie Jordan Binnington didn't get to enjoy his first AHL victory for long. Binnington was sent back to Kalamazoo of the ECHL on Tuesday, just two days after making 31 saves through regulation and overtime in the Wolves win over the IceHogs. Binnington also stopped three-of-four chances in the shootout in making his Wolves debut.
He'd been recalled from the K-Wings on Saturday after Jake Allen was once again brought up to the Blues to serve as a backup for Brian Elliot while Jaroslav Halak was ill. Binnington watched from the bench as the Wolves and Matt Climie earned a 4-3 shootout victory over Iowa.
He was told after the game he'd make Sunday's start. Before relaying that information to a reporter (well ... me) after the game, he had some fun answering a question regarding when he learned he'd be starting.
"Ummm, just after warmup (Sunday)," Binnington said, straight-faced. "No, I’m just kidding. No, it was (Saturday) night after the game."
Binnington was with the Wolves all through training camp, and had also played for the Blues in Traverse City during a prospects tournament. So the Wolves were familiar to him, and they, in turn, had confidence in him.
"The guys were really welcoming and took good care of me when I got here," Binnington said. "I know some of the guys pretty closely, so that helps."
There's no telling when he might be back with the Wolves, but it's clear his time in the K-Zoo won't last long.