Chicago Wolves Hockey - Chicago Wolves Hockey - Displaying items by tag: blog Wed, 20 Aug 2014 19:30:15 -0500 Joomla! - Open Source Content Management en-gb CALDER CUP PLAYOFF BLOG: Saying goodbye one meeting at a time CALDER CUP PLAYOFF BLOG: Saying goodbye one meeting at a time

As far as Chicago Wolves fans are concerned, the season ended Friday night in Toronto. Tired, sweaty, bearded players bucked up after the dispiriting Game 4 loss, skated through the postgame handshake line and headed to the locker room in Ricoh Coliseum to shed their Wolves jerseys for the final time as a unit.

But the 2013-14 Wolves brotherhood didn’t dissolve officially until Monday, when the players who made the trip to Toronto reported to the practice facility in Hoffman Estates for exit meetings and to clean out their locker space.

Each player filtered through a series of visits with their bosses. A trip into the coaches office for a discussion with John Anderson, Dave Allison and Scott Allen. A visit in the weight room next door with strength and conditioning coach Evan Levy. A sitdown upstairs with general manager Wendell Young. Those who are part of the St. Louis organization also met with Blues director of player development Tim Taylor.

“For the coaches, we talk about hockey stuff,” said Anderson, who hasn’t had time to shave the Fu Manchu he grew during the month-long playoff run. “Things we liked. Things that happened through the year. And then things to improve on, in our humble opinion, for them to get better as players. But we start off each meeting by asking them how they think their year went. Because sometimes you don’t always know what’s in their head. You might think you do, but you want to know what they’re thinking. Some of the answers can help you as a coach too. As much as you think you’re doing the right things as a coach, you always make mistakes. I made a couple mistakes this year in assessing some players and where they should be.”

Most players looked markedly different than Friday night in Toronto. They shaved their playoff beards and/or cut their hair. Most wore T-shirts and shorts. As they mingled between meetings, they sat in the locker room downstairs or the conference room upstairs and talked about whatever came to mind. The good times they had. The good times to come.

A few players are sticking around Chicago this summer and hoping to catch a ball game or two as part of their decompression plan. Others are heading home as early as Tuesday. Defenseman Brent Regner embarks on his 30-hour drive to Alberta. Forward Sebastian Wannstrom flies home to Sweden.

Five players shift into wedding-planning mode as they prepare for their summer ceremonies. At least two players and their wives can’t wait to welcome children into the world. Others will enjoy the single life.

How many of the 2013-14 Wolves will return to be a part of the next brotherhood? That remains to be seen. At least a few players will be in the NHL. Forward Michael Davies, after spending the last four years with the Wolves, said he’s heading to Germany to play. Some free agents will resign with the Wolves. Others will find new places to play, whether in the American Hockey League or elsewhere.

It’s a wistful time, shoveling a year’s worth of gear into a duffel bag, firing up the pickup truck and exchanging handshakes and goodbyes. But it’s an optimistic time as well. The 2014 Calder Cup is out of reach, but the hunt for the 2015 Calder Cup starts soon. Anderson, Young, and senior advisor Gene Ubriaco will take a moment to relax and then dive into preparations for next season. Actually, it’s more fair to say the preparations already have begun.

“There’s only one team that’s happy of the 30,” Anderson said. “You just want to know, ‘What do we have to do to get to be that one team?’ I have an idea of what we need to fix, but are there going to be players available to fill those voids? It’s a bit of a blank canvas right now.”

]]> (Super User) Features Mon, 19 May 2014 17:09:24 -0500
CALDER CUP PLAYOFF BLOG: Recipes for turning around the Western Conference Semifinals and for delicious post-practice concoctions CALDER CUP PLAYOFF BLOG: Recipes for turning around the Western Conference Semifinals and for delicious post-practice concoctions

There’s no way to get around the results or to pretend they don’t exist. The Toronto Marlies came into Allstate Arena last weekend and took the first two games of the Western Conference Semifinals.

But the Chicago Wolves didn’t spend Sunday and Monday cowering in a corner, driving themselves crazy over the losses, and wondering whether to bother to board the planes headed to Toronto on Tuesday for Games 3 through 5 at the Ricoh Coliseum. That’s not the nature of professional athletes and coaches in general --- and especially not that of Wolves head coach John Anderson and this group of players.

When asked the secret to turning around this best-of-seven series, Anderson started with this brilliant idea ripped straight from Toronto’s efforts in Games 1 and 2 over the weekend.

“Score the first three goals,” Anderson said with a grin camouflaged by his Fu Manchu. “That’s how they changed those games. When you’re up, you tend to play a little more at ease. When you’re down, you’re squeezing your stick a little harder and you want to do too much at times.”

Toronto bolted to a 3-0 lead in the opening 25 minutes of Game 1, but needed just 15 minutes to obtain a 3-0 lead in Game 2. Some ill-timed penalties and uncommon defensive breakdowns helped the Marlies earn those crucial early margins, which is oddly comforting because it’s a reminder the Wolves didn’t show their best in those games.

“I think everybody wants to do so well, I think maybe we’re psyching ourselves out a little bit off the start,” said defenseman Taylor Chorney, the Wolves captain. “I think if we can just settle down and play our game right away, I think we should be fine. “

Some of the Wolves got together on Sunday and rehashed the games briefly, but nobody believes there’s a need verbalize such plans as “let’s score the first goal” or “let’s not make defensive mistakes.” After Monday’s practice, the team engaged in a video session where the coaches used the mistakes as teachable moments and used the good footage to praise them.

“If you look at the end of the first period of Game 2, we started bringing it,” Anderson said. “I thought we had a lot of puck control in their zone. We’re getting tackled in front of the net, but if they’re going to let it go, that’s OK. We can be a little more opportunistic. Their goaltender (former Wolves player Drew MacIntyre) has been playing well, but I think we can still slip a couple by them.”


Keith Aucoin, who has 16 points and 71 assists in 90 career American Hockey League postseason appearances, needs just 1 point to tie former Wolves great Steve Maltais for 10th place on the AHL’s all-time playoff scoring list.

Long story short, the 35-year-old Aucoin has been a champion at every level of hockey and has been a part of teams that dominated from the start and part of teams that needed a little time to get going.

“My second year at Hershey (2010) when we won the Calder Cup, we lost the first two games at home in the Finals,” Aucoin said. “Then we won four straight. So I’ve been on a team that’s done it before. It’s just about playing our game and believing in what you’re doing.”


Captain Taylor Chorney was answering some questions in the players lounge after Monday’s practice when defenseman David Shields started filling a blender with ingredients for a protein shake. Chorney, playing the we-were-blueline-partners-for-most-of-this-season card, asked Shields if he minded adding some more contents to the blender so he could enjoy some shake as well.

Shields complied. Tossed in more powder, more banana, more water. Hit some buttons and made approximately 40 ounces worth of beige-looking goodness. Then, out of nowhere, as if the sound of the blender compelled them to drop whatever they were doing, fellow defensemen Evan Oberg and Brent Regner walked into the room requesting some too.

With a look that could have been described as exasperated, Shields split the 40 ounces of beige-looking goodness into four cups and it took them about four seconds to drink it. Everyone marveled at Shields’ way with a blender.

“Shieldsy,” Chorney declared, “this is delicious!”

Regner stage-whispered that Shields ought to make everybody some more. Probably best he didn't hear.

]]> (Super User) Features Mon, 12 May 2014 16:01:23 -0500
CALDER CUP PLAYOFF BLOG: Cracknell's habits, Kogut's catch, and the latest on beards and caps CALDER CUP PLAYOFF BLOG: Cracknell's habits, Kogut's catch, and the latest on beards and caps

This blog does not endorse gambling. But if you’re looking to make some money and have the chance to bet on which Chicago Wolves skater is the first to take the ice for any given practice, you’d be wise to pick forward Adam Cracknell.

When the Wolves practiced Thursday morning at Allstate Arena, Cracknell was the first non-goalie on the ice. He took advantage of the time to take some shots on goaltenders Jake Allen and Matt Climie and basically act like a 28-year-old professional. To further that impression, Cracknell shrugged off any suggestion he might serve as a role model in this regard.

“That’s just me,” Cracknell said. “I go out there early, but that’s just my way to get a feel for the warm-up. I don’t do much off the ice in the way of a warm-up, so it’s nice to go out there and feel the puck a little bit and get ready for the weekend any way I can.”

For those just joining the Wolves’ hunt for the Calder Cup, which resumes with Game 1 of the Western Conference Semifinals at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Allstate Arena, Cracknell is in the midst of his second playoff run this spring.

When the St. Louis Blues battled the Chicago Blackhawks in the opening round of the Stanley Cup playoffs, Cracknell played in five games on the Blues’ fourth line. He scored the first goal in the series and averaged 12 minutes, 43 seconds of ice time per game. These simple numbers don’t do enough to convey how much Cracknell invested in that series.

“It’s draining,” Cracknell said. “Throughout the week, you try to rest as best as you can, but your mind is going the whole time about nothing but hockey and how you’re supposed to play. Once it was over, it was a shock and a lot of exhaustion. Mostly mentally.”

Immediately after the series concluded, Cracknell was offered the opportunity to rejoin the Wolves, for whom he delivered 25 points in 28 games during the second half of the regular season.

“The body wanted to, but I just wanted to make sure I was ready to make a full commitment to come back,” Cracknell said. “I was here for two months with these guys. I knew a lot of them before, I got to know a lot of new guys and to be a part of this team. I know what caliber of team we have. We have a team that can win a championship and I want to be a part of that and help in any way I can.”

Cracknell returned to the Wolves the morning of the Western Conference Quarterfinals Game 3 and wasted no time helping out. He scored two goals in the first period to set the tone for a 4-0 victory over Rochester. He has three points in three Calder Cup playoff games.

Each time Cracknell scores, he helps himself as much as he helps the Wolves. As an unrestricted free agent for next season, he gets the chance to impress and earn his next NHL deal. But, again, the Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, native views the playoffs more in terms of Ws and Ls than dollars and cents.

“At the end of the day,” he said, “I think any hockey player would have made the same decision to come back and get the opportunity to play instead of sitting on the couch watching.”


After casting aspersions on head equipment manager Craig Kogut’s fishing ability in yesterday’s blog, it’s only fair to tell the other side of the story today. During Wednesday’s Blarney Bassmasters tournament at Fox Chain O’Lakes, Kogut reeled in a three-pound largemouth bass to claim the biggest catch of the day and the $65 prize that accompanied it.

In other fishing news, head coach John Anderson only chuckled when asked about his outing in Waukegan with Wolves owner Buddy Meyers and others. He suggested the blog check in with Meyers to find out how the afternoon went. Stay tuned for details.


Several Chicago Wolves are growing playoff beards. Forward Nathan Longpre might be leading the pack while head coach John Anderson leads in style points with his Fu Manchu. Pictures are coming soon and we’ll set up a poll to vote for the finest facial hair.

Meanwhile, though none of the Wolves hail from Chicago, they’ve taken to supporting other professional franchises with their choice of caps they wear as they leave practice.

Christian Hanson walked out of Allstate Arena on Thursday wearing a White Sox cap, Eric Selleck donned a Bears cap and Derek Nesbitt had an old-school Cubs cap. Keith Aucoin, of course, repped for the Boston Red Sox as did Tyler Shattock. The outliers? California native Shane Harper had a green Oakland A’s cap while Sweden native Sebastian Wannstrom, who has grown quite fond of Air Jordans, broke out his Brooklyn Nets cap.

]]> (Super User) Features Thu, 08 May 2014 16:21:05 -0500
CALDER CUP PLAYOFF BLOG: Tales of power plays and fish CALDER CUP PLAYOFF BLOG: Tales of power plays and fish

Before the Calder Cup playoffs began, wise Wolves center Keith Aucoin spent time analyzing the team’s power play that ranked 30th among the AHL’s 30 teams during the regular season.

“The best part of the playoffs is you’re back to Square 1, so you’re zero for zero on the power play,” Aucoin said. “Hopefully we can have the best power play in the playoffs.”

As the Wolves prepare for the best-of-seven Western Conference Semifinals against Toronto that begin Friday at Allstate Arena, Aucoin’s hope isn’t too far from reality. After converting just 12.6 percent of their power plays during the regular season, the Wolves clicked on 25.9 percent (7 of 27) against Rochester in the Western Conference Quarterfinals. That’s good for fifth place among the 16 AHL playoff teams.

“I really can’t put my finger on it,” said Wolves head coach John Anderson, who directly oversees the team’s power play. “I really think our power play has been better probably since the end of January. We weren’t great, but we weren’t as bad as we were the first three months.”

Anderson’s recollection jibes with the stats. Using Feb. 1 as an arbitrary end point, the Wolves were 23 of 206 (11.2 percent) on the power play from October through January and 20 of 136 (14.7 percent) during their final 32 regular-season games. Throw in the fact that power-play staples such as left wing Dmitrij Jaskin (in the NHL) and defenseman Brent Regner (injured) missed a good chunk of the final 32 games and it’s no wonder the Wolves showed even more improvement against Rochester.

Jaskin and Regner each scored 2 goals on the power play against the Americans. Regner posted just one power-play goal in 63 regular-season games.

Anderson likes the way his defensemen --- Regner and Mark Cundari and Joe Corvo and Evan Oberg --- have been shooting the puck on the man-advantage. That quartet appeared in the same game exactly twice all season (March 8 and March 15) prior to the playoffs.

“We didn’t have that all year,” Anderson said. “All those little things add up. Once you get a regular power play where your best players are playing in that situation, I think it’s going to improve.”


In the Wolves coaching office at the practice rink in Hoffman Estates, there’s a nice HD television mounted on the wall that’s always turned on. As near as anyone can tell, the TV only gets two channels: The hockey channel and the fishing channel. Those are the things John Anderson likes best and so that’s what the coaches watch.

While the playoffs are almost all hockey all the time for the Wolves staff, Anderson planned to escape to Waukegan after Wednesday’s practice for a little fishing. He wasn’t the only one.

Equipment manager Craig Kogut has been with the Wolves since the beginning. Anyone who knows Kogut knows he’s all about fishing in the offseason. Throughout the summer, he drives a boat that can be seen a mile away because it’s decked out in Chicago Wolves colors and logos.

Kogut, his son, D.J., and his daughter, Lisamarie, were headed to the Fox Chain O’Lakes Wednesday afternoon to compete in the weekly Blarney Bassmasters competition. The Koguts ranked among the top quarter of the competitors after the first two weeks.

After Wednesday’s optional practice, Craig was telling goaltender Matt Climie and a few others about his fishing expedition on Monday. With a tone of mock indignation, Craig declared that D.J. caught 10 fish while he didn’t get a nibble for the first three hours before finishing with one fish for the outing.

Climie, a mischievous sort, alternated between sympathizing with Kogut and chiding him for being outdone by his son.

“At some point,” Climie concluded with a grin, “10 is 10 and one is one.”

]]> (Super User) Features Wed, 07 May 2014 17:05:24 -0500
CALDER CUP PLAYOFF BLOG: Allen on goaltending and Anderson on Cracknell CALDER CUP PLAYOFF BLOG: Allen on goaltending and Anderson on Cracknell

Jake Allen doesn’t change whether he’s in goal for the Chicago Wolves or talking about goaltending for the Wolves. He’s direct, intelligent and analytical --- and not afraid to discuss things honestly.

As Allen and the Wolves prepare for Game 3 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals against Rochester (7 p.m. Thursday at Allstate Arena), here are some of the thoughts running through the head of the 2013-14 American Hockey League’s Most Outstanding Goaltender.

On Game 1 at Rochester:
“I feel like I was more anxious than anything. More jumpy. I think all of us were until the third period and then we finally relaxed and calmed down. I thought I played well the second game, but not good enough to win. We’ve got our hands full. They’re a great team and they showed us that in our first two games there.”

On preparing for games:
“I watch all my games (on video) and break them down. Blues goalie development coach Ty Conklin cuts them up for me. He watches all my games and sends them to me or shows them to me when he’s here.

“I get in a lot of our penalty kill and defensemen meetings and see what the other team’s tendencies are on the forecheck, going to the net and things like that. I try to learn as much as possible. That helps everyone.”

On having limited short-term memory:
“You have to. If you don’t do that, then I don’t think you can be a goalie. You’ve got to let it go. Goals happen. It’s part of the position. We chose it. Sometimes it’s hard, but I enjoy it. It’s a lot of pressure on your shoulders, but it’s pretty fun. If you make a mistake --- turn the puck over, commit a penalty, who knows --- you’ve got to let it go."

On the team’s mood going into Game 3:
"It's a clean slate right now. It's a best-out-of-three games. We've got to get on our horse tomorrow night. We know they're going to come out of the gate flying. They did that in both of the first two games. Credit to them for that. They came right at us and they're going to do it again tomorrow, so we've got to be prepared."


Forward Adam Cracknell just wrapped up a grueling Stanley Cup playoff series against the Chicago Blackhawks, during which he scored one goal and averaged 12 minutes, 43 seconds of ice time during the five games in which he played.

He could have decided his body’s not up to the challenge of joining the Calder Cup playoff fray, but the 28-year-old returned on loan Wednesday to the Wolves. He’s expected to be ready to go for Game 3 on Thursday.

The 6-foot-2, 210-pound Cracknell contributed 12 goals and 13 assists in 28 games for the Wolves before returning to St. Louis on April 11.

“It’s good to have him back, that’s for sure,” said Wolves head coach John Anderson. “He can score and he’s a big body. He gives us some size and some strength upfront. He balances our lines a little bit more and gives us more depth. “

Forwards Eric Kattelus and Yannick Veilleux, defenseman Brett Ponich, and goaltender Jordan Binnington also have rejoined the Wolves in the wake of Kalamazoo’s Game 6 loss to Greenville Tuesday night to close out the Wings’ ECHL playoff run.

]]> (Super User) Features Wed, 30 Apr 2014 17:05:34 -0500
CALDER CUP PLAYOFF BLOG: Lifting, playing and practicing CALDER CUP PLAYOFF BLOG: Lifting, playing and practicing

When you walk into the Chicago Wolves’ locker room at their Hoffman Estates practice facility, you can never predict what style of music will be blaring in the strength and conditioning room.

Depending on which players are working out, strength and conditioning coach Evan Levy’s iPhone might be tuned to a Techno channel, hair metal, adult contemporary, ‘80s party anthems or, as of 12:30 Tuesday afternoon, Bill Withers’ “Lean on Me.”

Here’s something that doesn’t change in Levy’s room during the playoffs: The players’ commitment to working out. Yes, it’s crucial to conserve energy to be able to peak when the Wolves’ Western Conference Quarterfinals against Rochester resume with Game 3 at 7 p.m. Thursday at Allstate Arena. But there’s a balance that must be struck.

“If we play all the way until June and we stop lifting, then that could be eight weeks we don’t do anything,” said Levy, who’s in his first year with the Wolves and fourth working with an American Hockey League team. “It’s important for the players to understand that it’s OK that they maintain their lifts. That they won’t be sore, they won’t be tired. If they do feel a little sore, then it’s a necessary evil because if we go eight weeks without training, not only will we lose our capacity to play, but we could also get hurt easier.”

At the same time, the lifting and conditioning programs aren’t as extensive as the regular season. If a player worked out for 15-20 minutes after a Tuesday practice in January, maybe he does just 5-10 minutes after a Tuesday practice during the playoffs.

“No. 1, we want to make sure the guys are ready to play, so we’ll maintain our lifts but lessen the volume,” Levy said. “We’ll do fewer sets and repetitions. We’ll also change a couple exercises to do safer ones because the guys are worn down and it’s been a long season. For example, instead of doing a double-leg exercise that emphasizes more of the back, we’ll do a single-leg exercise that emphasizes less of the back. It’s a little bit safer.”


One Chicago Wolves employee who’s dealing with extra soreness at this time of the year is head coach John Anderson.

One way he blows off steam during the season --- and he’s not taking a break during the playoffs --- is participating in the Max Achium league that plays in Downers Grove and Carol Stream a couple nights per week. Anderson claims Max Achium is Latin for “Over the Hill.”

Anderson played Sunday night until about 11 p.m., so he was feeling it during Monday’s practice. Nonetheless, he planned to play again with his buddies on Tuesday night.

"There are 50 people in the league and only 30 can play on a given night,” Anderson said. “So you have to call and reserve a spot. If you’re not among the first 30, you don’t get to play.”

Anderson scored 282 goals during his 12-year NHL career and 140 more during four seasons in the American Hockey League and International Hockey League, so it’s fair to assume he could put up some nice Max Achium numbers. Instead, he’s just as likely to play as a defenseman and he enjoys the thrill of passing the puck. He says he only tracks one stat in his head: Plus/minus.

To read more about the Max Achium boys, enjoy this story by Daily Herald columnist Burt Constable:


The Wolves held a video session and then an optional 45-minute practice on Tuesday morning. Clearly the players wanted to keep preparing for Rochester as they had more than 90 percent of the active players on the ice for the workout

]]> (Super User) Features Tue, 29 Apr 2014 16:05:11 -0500
CALDER CUP PLAYOFF BLOG: Reassessing the Rochester trip CALDER CUP PLAYOFF BLOG: Reassessing the Rochester trip

John Anderson has several strengths as a coach. One of them is his willingness not to mince words.

The Chicago Wolves flew out of Rochester on Sunday after splitting the first two games of their best-of-five Western Conference Quarterfinals series. Considering the Wolves get to host the final three games (if necessary), conventional hockey wisdom suggests Anderson ought to be happy to come back to Allstate Arena with a split on enemy ice.

Anderson declared himself happy, but not for that reason.

“We won three periods,” he said. “They won four. They really played desperate in the second game. They played very hard. Gotta give them credit where credit’s due. We didn’t play as good as we should have --- or as hard as we should have. We were in regular-season mode. They were in postseason mode.“

Rest assured Anderson has shared his opinion with his players.

“It could have been 2-0 (Rochester),” he said. “I do not like this mode, but everybody’s in it and just deal with it. Unfortunately.”


Dmitrij Jaskin was the hero of Game 1 Friday night when he knocked home the winning goal 66 seconds into overtime. It was a thrilling way for the 21-year-old rookie to end a long day that required a lot of extra adrenalin.

Jaskin opened Friday in St. Louis as he had been in the NHL since March 16. When he found out during the morning that he was reassigned to the Wolves, he caught a flight to Chicago and tried to get a little sleep. Once he landed at O'Hare, he joined Wolves owners Don Levin and Buddy Meyers on a private flight to Rochester and reached the locker room about two hours before puck drop.

“It was a pretty crazy day,” Jaskin said. “I just tried to stay focused that first game because it was pretty long and I played a lot and I hadn’t been playing much for the last month.”

Jaskin hadn’t played since April 13 against Detroit, yet John Anderson didn’t see a rusty or out-of-shape player. As he pointed out, Jaskin was on the ice for the entire 66-second overtime.

“This guy likes to play,” Anderson said. “He takes 1 minute, 30-second shifts. He likes taking long shifts.”

Jaskin admitted his lengthy Friday left him tired on Saturday --- not that it matters at this time of year.

“It’s the playoffs and you work all year for that,” Jaskin said. “So no excuses.”


Defenseman Henrik Odegaard showed up at the practice rink in Hoffman Estates on Monday morning. Instead of joining the rest of the Wolves on the ice, he stayed in the locker room and packed his blue equipment bag with a logo that features a polar bear and the phrase NORGES ISHOCKEYFORBUND 18-9-1934.

]]> (Super User) Features Mon, 28 Apr 2014 15:29:13 -0500
CALDER CUP PLAYOFF BLOG: Planes, Goalies and Power Plays CALDER CUP PLAYOFF BLOG: Planes, Goalies and Power Plays

The Chicago Wolves don’t play their first Western Conference Quarterfinals game until 6 p.m. Friday, but they’ve already set a team record: Most planes required to get the team to the game.

Because the Wolves didn’t learn the identity of their playoff opponent until 9:45 p.m. last Saturday, assistant general manager Bill Bentley and hockey operations assistant Norine Gillner had to go to ridiculous lengths to book the team’s trip to Rochester.

Turns out Rochester is a hot destination this time of year. Bentley and Gillner had to spread the Wolves traveling party between an unprecedented SIX flights that went from O’Hare to Rochester on Thursday. General manager Wendell Young and several others were on the 6:30 a.m. flight. The players were split between three subsequent flights, which meant a few Wolves didn’t get to participate in Thursday’s practice in Hoffman Estates.

The coaches were slated to depart at 5:10 p.m. while two members of the TV production crew had the 7:39 p.m. flight.

That wasn’t the only problem. The Wolves’ usual bus company didn’t have any availability. Their traditional hotel choices were booked up as well.

But fear not. This story should end well. For the trip back to O’Hare on Sunday, the team is only split between three flights. For now.


Even casual hockey fans know it’s an advantage to have a great goaltender. The Wolves’ Jake Allen proved to be the AHL’s finest this year as he led the league in wins (33), goals-against average (2.03) and save percentage (.928).

Not only did Allen win goaltending’s Triple Crown, he claimed the Aldege “Baz” Bastien that goes to the league’s most outstanding goaltender according to a vote by the players, coaches and media.

If you’re a Wolves fan, then you’d like to think there’s a trend of Bastien Award winners going on to lead their team to the Calder Cup championship. Alas, this hasn’t happened since 1997 when Jean-Francois Labbe backstopped the Hershey Bears to the title.

In the subsequent 16 AHL postseasons, only two goaltenders have sparked their team as far as the Calder Cup Finals: Cory Schneider took Manitoba to the 2009 finals, where the Moose lost to Hershey, and Martin Biron paced Rochester to the 1999 finals and a loss to the Providence Bruins.


There’s no getting around the official numbers. During the 2013-14 regular season, the Chicago Wolves ranked last out of the American Hockey League’s 30 teams on the power play. They converted just 12.6 percent of their power-play chances.

To put that into perspective, the Texas Stars led the AHL by converting 25.3 percent of their chances with the man-advantage --- which means they were twice as proficient as the Wolves.

Yet, when you look at the regular-season standings, the Stars (106 points) finished with just six more points than the Wolves. Imagine how the postseason might play out if and when the Wolves click more regularly on the power play.

“I think for the first couple months, we were trying to be too cute with the puck,” said center Keith Aucoin, a staple on the power play. “The last half of the season, we wanted to simplify and get pucks to the net and get rebounds and that’s what we did. That’s been a big help.”

Then Aucoin smiled.

“The best part of the playoffs is you’re back to Square 1, so you’re zero for zero on the power play. Hopefully we can have the best power play in the playoffs.”

Features Thu, 24 Apr 2014 17:53:32 -0500
The Bachelor: Season 17 Ep. 5 & 6 Recap The Bachelor: Season 17 Ep. 5 & 6 Recap

Bachelor Episode 5

The girls and Sean head off to Montana this week. Being the outdoors type of guy, Sean wanted to be outside.  That's great, but how about you take them somewhere tropical so we can see the girls in swimsuits? This week was another episode.

One on One

Sean and Lindsay attended a concert in the town square of Whitefish, Montana. Hundreds of people were there watching them slow dance on a stage in the middle of the street. It was kind of romantic and Sean did a heck of a job planning it by himself. Something like this clearly brings two people closer together.

Lindsay, who we thought was crazy on the first episode for wearing a wedding dress, is now in my Top 4, which means I see her getting a hometown date. (Side note: She was wearing a white jacket and I think white jackets are sexy. So if you think you are having a terrible hair day, just put on a white jacket.)

Group Date


Another date that included a "Winners Stay, Losers Leave" contest. The girls competed in a "Lumberjack" race that consisted of canoeing, stacking hay, chopping wood and milking a goat. At the end, one person had to drink the goat milk. That ended up being Desiree. Des, Sarah, Robyn and Selma got to stay with Sean. The Blue team lost because Daniella clearly didn't have the skills to milk a goat.

Sean and the Red Team headed out for drinks and because he felt bad for sending the Blue Team home, he invited them back. Selma was not happy about that. She even said, "We put everything we had into that race." Oh, come on, Selma. A one-armed girl did it, how hard could it have been?

Tierra later showed up on the date because she wanted to see Sean. Yeah, she’s crazy, but this move was done by ABC. She was never seen by the other girls --- only Sean. If it wasn’t for Tierra, this season would be Tierr-able.

Daniella gets the Group Date rose. She's awful.

Two-on-one Date

This date is always awkward because whoever doesn't get the rose is off the show. Sean spent the day horseback riding with Jackie and Tierra. The date was over before it even started. Tierra was given the rose and Jackie went home.

Bachelor Episode 6

Now the group heads to Banff, Alberta. What a gorgeous place and we are finally seeing these girls wear some bathing suits! Here's how it all went down…

One on One

We finally get to see Catherine and it ended up being in a snowsuit in Jasper National Park. Besides Sean picking her up in a snow bus, this was a very realistic date. Sean and Catherine played in the snow and just had a good time.

At night, they went on a horse and carriage ride and were dropped off at an ice castle where they hung out and made out all night. Catherine told Sean a sad story about when she was 12, she and her friend were on a walk, a tree fell and her friend died. Tough break. This is a prime example of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Catherine was given a rose. I predict her getting a hometown date. When she and Sean are together, Sean seems more real. He always is saying how much he wants to cuddle with her. He also laughs with her more than anyone else. We will see much more of her.

Group Date

Sean, Tierra, Lindsay, Sarah, Selma, Lesley, Daniella, and AshLee canoed across Lake Louise. I went there when I was 13 and it is beautiful! On the other side of the lake, they decided to do a Polar Bear Plunge. Yeah, jumping into freezing water must be safe! Smart move, ABC. Selma was the bright one and didn't jump in, but everyone else did.

seanandtierrainbed--3322790101649223782Tierra didn't want to go, but sacked up anyway and jumped in. Hypothermia got the best of Tierra -- no joke. Everyone thought she was faking it for attention and she probably was. She was carried back to the hotel by ABC’s finest medical interns. Sean told her to stay at the hotel and get better, but we all knew she wasn't going to. She ended up showing up to the nightly cocktail party to see Leslie get the rose.

After the group cocktail party, Sean went to the girls’ hotel and pulled Sarah aside.  He told her it wasn't working out. We all knew she wasn't going to last. She is cute, but lacks confidence and complains too much about having one arm. Sean probably was told by ABC that he had to show up at the hotel to cut someone just to give the show some more spice.

Sean kept asking Sarah on the way out, "Are you OK? You OK? Are you sure you’re OK?" No, Sean, she's not. She has one arm and you just sent her home unexpectedly.

One on One


This is Desiree's second date with Sean and the other girls are jealous. This date was another one of ABC’s "Test Your Fears." Sean and Des propelled down the side of a cliff and had a picnic at the bottom. These two have a good connection and we will see her in a hometown date.

Cocktail Party

This was just another boring/predictable night, so here's what stood out to me:

Selma said she had to "bring out the guns tonight." Apparently when she said that, she meant giving Sean a kiss, I thought she was talking about the amount of cleavage she was showing.

Sean asked Lindsay to tell him a secret and she said, "I sleep naked." That just might have booked her a trip back home for a hometown date.

My Hometown Date Picks


Sent Home


]]> (Mike Davies) Mike Davies' Bachelor Blog Fri, 08 Feb 2013 11:34:40 -0600
The Bachelor: Episode 9 Recap

So the remaining three girls head off to Switzerland where Ben has the same old conversation with each girl --- just in a different country.

So the remaining three girls head off to Switzerland where Ben has the same old conversation with each girl --- just in a different country.

Switzerland is beautiful and Ben is ugly. The first date went to Nicki and Ben said she was the "dark rose." The two fly over Switzerland in a helicopter and it truly is beautiful. Ben used the line again, "You really are opening up." This guy has said this to every single girl about eight times. Shows that his brain is the size of a Milk Dud.

I love how Ben told Nicki her dad reminds him of his dad. And then he sends her home. How do you tell a girl that her father reminds you of your dad and then she's the next girl you send home?

Furthermore, it does not look good for you to get sent home at the next rose ceremony after you sleep in the same room together. Ben sent Nicki home because he had "doubts." Well, I doubt that Ben is smarter than a trout.

The other two dates he had with Lindzi and Courtney were dates we've seen before. Lindzi had to overcome her fear of heights and Courtney had to talk in her baby voice and recite her lines. All three dates ended with the girls staying in the fantasy suite with Ben playing a game of Twister.

Kacie B chases the crew to Switzerland so she can get closure with Ben. A simple phone call would have been fine. I don't blame her for wanting closure, but I don't think it was worth a nine-hour flight for this fool.

It's almost like he didn't know what to say to Kacie. Once Ben told her he didn't want her back, she again told Ben that Courtney is bad news. Which is about the 12th time he's been told this. It's obvious who is going to win this: Courtney.

I don't care what Ben does now, since I think Kacie B was the most down-to-earth, lovely woman. He dumped her because of her parents’ opinions, I think. I hope she finds what she deserves, which is MUCH better than "I Don't take a Shower Ben."

Final Two: Lindzi and Courtney

Lindzi is a better person for Ben, but deserves better. Courtney hasn't looked Ben in the eye for more than a span of two seconds. Ben keeps saying he's confused and doesn't know what to think of Courtney. You could propose in two weeks, dummy, and you’re questioning her???

The sneak peek of Emily Maynard reminded me of how much I love her. She met up with ex-Bachelorettes Ali and Ashley. They gave her some advice and then the three went to see Titanic 3-D and wore dresses like they were headed to a club.

This needs to be mentioned. Ashley said Jack and Rose had the "perfect relationship" and that’s what everyone needs. OK, listen up, Ashley: Jack and Rose were on a boat for a week, one was engaged and sleeping behind her fiance’s back and then Jack drowned. That relationship sunk, just like every other relationship on this show. But who cares? I still watch it and can't wait for "Women Tell All."

A few quick thoughts:

I don't know why they have an invitation to the overnight fantasy suite. I don't think anyone has ever turned down that invite. If someone ever has or does, they will probably be sent home, at least with Ben.

I find it hysterical once the couple gets into the suite, they don't want to sit down and talk, or watch TV. They strip down and head straight for the jacuzzi to swap spit.

Ben looks like a chimp and Courtney looks like Russell Brand. It's not fair to the other girls that Courtney got to see him naked twice, in Puerto Rico and Switzerland.

What was he wearing during the rose ceremony? Plaid shirt, plaid tie! Could they not afford to send costume designers with them to Switzerland?

Sometimes I even think he looks like Marcel, Ross' monkey from “Friends.” Don't they supply shampoo and a comb for this dude? The only people who have a haircut like that are children aged 3-12. That's because their moms cut it.

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Mike Davies' Bachelor Blog Fri, 02 Mar 2012 11:25:07 -0600