Wolves coast to Game 1 victory over IceHogs 100-point scorer Poturalski notches 2 assists; Noesen scores twice
Racking up 100 points in the American Hockey League is next to impossible.
But Chicago Wolves forward Andrew Poturalski became the first player in 12 years to accomplish the feat by scoring 28 goals and dishing out 73 assists for the Central Division champs.
The reason most players don't reach the century mark is pretty obvious: If someone is scoring at that clip, their NHL team is going to call him up.
But Poturalski only played in two games for the Carolina Hurricanes this season and spent the rest of the time helping the Wolves pile up 50 victories for just the fourth time in franchise history.
"Honestly I can't believe it," the 28-year-old New York native said of reaching the milestone. "We definitely don't play for individual awards and stuff like that -- we want to win and make a run in playoffs -- but it's definitely cool to do it."
If the Wolves are to have a successful postseason run they'll have to eliminate the Rockford IceHogs in a best-of-five series. They got off on the right foot Thursday, overcoming an early 1-0 deficit to post a 6-2 Game 1 victory at Allstate Arena.
The Wolves host Game 2 Saturday at 7 p.m.
Lukas Reichel, who had 21 goals for Rockford and played 11 games with the Blackhawks, gave the IceHogs a 1-0 lead by converting a breakaway chance at 6:16 of the first period.
The Wolves flipped the momentum, though, when Cavan Fitzgerald tied the game at 19:04 of the first, and Stefan Noesen converted a stuff attempt on the power play just 46 seconds later. The Wolves added 3 goals in the second period and made it 6-1 on another goal by Noesen early in the third.
Poturalski, who had 2 assists Thursday, took full advantage of his call up to Carolina in December by recording assists in victories over the Red Wings and Kings. He was sent back to the Wolves, however, after the Hurricanes dealt with one of the season's bigger COVID outbreaks.
"We kind of joked around that we didn't think you'd even be allowed to get to 100 points in this league because you should get called up before then," Poturalski said. "But it is what it is.
"Obviously Carolina's been a great team and they've had no injuries. We have a solid team here and it's been so fun."
It was anything but fun for the IceHogs, who went 37-30-5 in the regular season and eliminated Texas in a best-of-three series last week. Rockford goalie Arvid Soderblom stopped the first 16 shots he saw, but then gave up 5 goals on the Wolves' next 9 attempts.
Rockford also failed to capitalize on an 84-second two-man advantage late in the second period, with the puck getting cleared out of the zone three times.
The Wolves outshot the IceHogs 38-20 and went 2-for-7 on the power play.
"I thought we started well," said IceHogs defenseman Ian Mitchell. "Then that goal at the end of the (first), that was tough to give up. ...
"(This) is the adversity you're gonna face in playoff hockey. You're not gonna sweep every series. ... You see it in the NHL and same in our league where teams get blown out one night and come back for the next. So we're gonna try to do that."
Calder Cup playoffsChicago Wolves vs. Rockford IceHogs(Best of five)
Game 1: Wolves 6, IceHogs 2
Wolves lead series, 1-0
Game 2: IceHogs at Wolves, Saturday at 7 p.m.
Game 3: Wolves at IceHogs, Sunday at 4 p.m.
Game 4: Wolves at IceHogs, Tuesday at 7 p.m.
Game 5: IceHogs at Wolves, Thursday at 7 p.m.