There was more than a little scoreboard watching at Allstate Arena Saturday night as the Chicago Wolves (45-21-5-5) needed to pick up one more point than Grand Rapids to overtake the Griffins for the Midwest Division crown.
Chicago did its part, dominating a scoreless opening period, then finding the back of the net three times in the second to take a commanding 3-0 lead over the Milwaukee Admirals (39-24-6-7). After Sebastian Wannstrom broke the scoring open, Ty Rattie netted his 30th and 31st of his rookie season to put the Wolves up three.
“We stuck with our game and we knew pucks would start going in,” said Rattie.
Lake Erie did its part as well, outlasting Grand Rapids 4-3 in a shootout. During the second intermission of Chicago’s affair, the Griffins and Monsters were in the middle of their shootout. Some of the Wolves admitted to listening in for the final score.
“I heard a roar in the room and I knew,” said Anderson. “God bless Lake Erie,” he added jokingly.
Chicago cruised from that point on. Eric Selleck tallied two goals in the third and Michael Davies added another as the Wolves clinched the division with emphasis in the 6-0 victory.
The Wolves had not been atop the division since Opening Night back on Oct 4, but had been locked in a tight battle with the Griffins for most of the second half of the season. After Grand Rapids took the division last season, Chicago claimed its second division title in three years.
“We knew we had the right team to do it,” said Rattie.
“It shows how much character this team has,” added Wolves goaltender Jake Allen. Unheralded were Allen’s 38 saves and league-leading seventh shutout of the season.
It was also the first time the Wolves have reached 100 points in a season since the 2009-10 campaign.
More importantly, by moving into the second slot of the Western Conference playoff picture, the Wolves will have home ice advantage for at least two rounds. Chicago has been on a tear at Allstate Arena over its last 28 games, compiling a 22-1-3-2 record over that span.
Chicago’s quest for the Calder Cup will begin against the Rochester Americans. The two sides met just twice during the season, each winning once.
“We don’t know a lot about them, but they’re in the same vote,” said Anderson. “It’s going to be a tough series.”
Game one between the Wolves and Americans will be Friday night in Rochester.
“We’ll play our game and be ready for 60 minutes,” said Allen.