ROSEMONT, Ill. — The Chicago Wolves capped a remarkable final-week rally with a 6-0 victory over Milwaukee on Saturday night at Allstate Arena to claim the American Hockey League’s Midwest Division title.
Goaltender Jake Allen produced his seventh shutout to set the franchise’s single-season record and team scoring champion Ty Rattie posted two goals for the Wolves (45-21-5-5), who finished the regular season with 100 points and rallied past Grand Rapids (99 points) to capture the ninth division title in franchise history. The Griffins, who held the division lead for the previous 167 days, suffered a shootout loss at Lake Erie to open the door for the Wolves.
Chicago earned the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference and faces Rochester in the first round of the Calder Cup playoffs. The best-of-five series begins Friday at Rochester. The Wolves host Games 3, 4, and 5 with Game 3 slated for 7 p.m. on Thursday, May 1, at Allstate Arena.
“It came down to the last day and we had to have some help,” said Wolves head coach John Anderson. “God bless Lake Erie. The most important thing is we’re playing consistent and just expecting to win every game. Grand Rapids played great down the stretch, too.”
Right wing Sebastian Wannstrom, making his first appearance since March 23 due to injury, opened the scoring in the Amtrak Rivalry contest with a shorthanded goal at 3:52 of the second period. Keith Aucoin claimed the puck in the neutral zone and threaded it ahead to Wannstrom for a breakaway that concluded with him deking Milwaukee goaltender Scott Darling and nudging a forehand shot across the line.
Rattie notched his 30th goal of the season at 8:24 when he blocked a pass from the point by a Milwaukee defenseman, chased the puck down the right-wing boards and launched a wrist shot over Darling’s glove to give the Wolves a 2-0 lead.
Rattie delivered another goal with 35.4 seconds remaining in the second as Christian Hanson carried the puck into the Milwaukee zone down the right boards, spotted Rattie skating down the slot and fed him for a shot through Darling’s five-hole.
Forwards Eric Selleck scored two goals and Michael Davies added his fourth in as many games to blow open the game in the third period. Allen stayed strong to become the second AHL goalie in 30 seasons to lead the league in wins (33), goals-against average (2.03) and save percentage (.928). He stopped 20 shots Saturday night.
Darling (13-6-2) posted 32 saves on 38 shots for the Admirals (39-24-6-7).
The Wolves play their first Calder Cup playoff home game on Thursday, May 1.
— Chicago Wolves