In a very real sense, the Chicago Wolves are fortunate to be tied in their Western Conference quarterfinals series against the Rochester Americans. The teams split a pair of games last weekend in Rochester, N.Y., to open the best-of-5 series that continues tonight at Allstate Arena.
In both games, the Wolves trailed 3-1. They were able to rally for a 4-3 overtime victory in Game 1, but in Game 2 they couldn’t get the equalizer in a 3-2 loss.
“We’re disappointed with 1-1,” defenseman Joe Corvo said. “Obviously, we’d like to be up 2-nothing. I thought we kind of let them take the play to us, let them hit us, and we really didn’t respond too much. Myself included. We just gotta step it up another level and match their hitting and their compete level.”
This is the only Western Conference series that was tied after two games, making Game 3 pivotal for obvious reasons, especially in a short series.
But by winning Game 1, the Wolves are looking to improve on a remarkable postseason streak. They have won 20 consecutive series when earning a Game 1 victory. The only time they didn’t was in 1996 against Las Vegas in the IHL.
Still, they know it’ll take a better effort from start-to-finish in each game if they hope to advance.
“(The Amerks) had their jump and it’s a home-field advantage for them and they used it well,” Wolves coach John Anderson said. “The crowd was excellent for them. But I thought we hung in there, you know we persevered. But we have to play better in order to win the series.”
WANNSTROM RETURNS FROM INJURY WITH A BANG
It didn’t take long for Sebastian Wannstrom to announce his return to the Wolves lineup. After missing 11 games due to injury, Wannstrom scored a shorthanded goal in the Wolves’ 6-0 victory over the Milwaukee Admirals in the regular-season finale.
Wannstrom then scored another shorthanded goal in Game 1 against the Amerks, sparking the Wolves’ late rally to force overtime.
“I feel great,” Wannstrom said earlier this week. “I had a good rehab and now I’m good to go.”
Wannstrom’s return was a boost for the Wolves, who lost center Alexandre Bolduc for the season with a broken leg suffered in the Milwaukee game.
“He’s been a real surprise since he’s come back,” Anderson said of Wannstrom. “It’s unfortunate he got hurt. He’s playing well, but not like he was before he got hurt. It’s just a matter of time, hopefully.”
Alas, Wannstrom was a healthy scratch for Game 3 due to the arrival of Adam Cracknell, who was sent back down after the St. Louis Blues were eliminated by the Chicago Blackhawks in the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Cracknell, who picked up 25 points in 28 games with the Wolves this season, was a welcome addition to the lineup as the Wolves look to up their intensity level.
“He’s a grinder with skill,” Anderson said. “For us, that will really help.”
DAVIES FOCUSED ON WOLVES, NOT NEXT YEAR’S PLANS
Right wing Michael Davies wasn’t caught off guard Monday when asked about a rumor he had signed with Dusseldorf EG of the German professional league.
“I don’t know anything about that,” Davies said. “I’ve always wanted to go play in Europe, but right now I’m here focused on winning a championship. I’m not worried about any contracts until the season’s done. That’s out of my control right now. I just want to win a championship here. This organization deserves one for as hard as it works.”
Davies is good friends with two Dusseldorf players, including Travis Turnbull. The two grew up together in Chesterfield, Mo.
“I don’t even know how (the rumor) even came about,” Davies said. “Whenever I saw it, it was in German, so I couldn’t even translate it. Two of my best friends do play on that team, so obviously names get tossed around all the time. (But) I’m focused on winning a championship here, that’s for sure.”