Stranger things: Wolves to see some old friends on Admirals in next series

  • Forward Stefan Noesen in action against the Rockford IceHogs May 15 in the AHL Central Division semifinals at Allstate Arena.

    Forward Stefan Noesen in action against the Rockford IceHogs May 15 in the AHL Central Division semifinals at Allstate Arena. Courtesy of Ross Dettman/Chicago Wolves

 
 
Updated 5/20/2022 6:05 PM

After easily eliminating the Rockford IceHogs from the Calder Cup playoffs, the Chicago Wolves now turn their attention to the Milwaukee Admirals in the divisional round.

This is a team the Wolves know quite well due to a unique partnership that was formed last season.

 

With COVID wreaking havoc upon the sports world, it was announced Jan. 4 that Milwaukee would not be able to partake in a shortened AHL season. That meant a number of Nashville Predators prospects had no place to play.

So three days later the Wolves -- whose NHL parent team is Carolina -- announced a one-year partnership with Nashville and played a 33-game schedule with the Admirals' top players.

"We have great admiration and respect for (Predators GM) David Poile and Milwaukee owner Harris Turner," said Wolves owner and chairman Don Levin when the agreement was reached. "We want to help people we respect and who are our partners."

Coaches from both teams shared an office, trainers and equipment managers worked together most days, and each squad dressed nine skaters for games (unless injuries forced a tweak).

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"Lot of meetings," Wolves coach Ryan Warsofsky said when asked how the teams meshed so well. "Lot of communication with Nashville and their management team and how they wanted to structure things. ...

"It had its challenges for sure, but we made it work."

The team breezed to a Central Division title with a .682 points percentage.

Seventeen players are still on the teams' rosters. And while they all got along last year, it surely won't be a love fest when they meet Saturday at Allstate Arena for the opener of the best-of-five series.

"Cole Smith -- he would take his Kamado Joe smoker out and treat the boys to some good meat," said Wolves center Spencer Smallman. "So, yeah, they're some good guys. But they're the enemies come Game 1."

The Wolves, who outscored the IceHogs 14-4 in a three-game sweep, are led by Stefan Noesen (48 goals) and Andrew Poturalski (28 goals, 73 assists). Three others scored 20 or more times. Richard Panik, who scored 22 goals for the Blackhawks in 2016-17, came over on a loan from the Islanders in March and adds a veteran presence.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The Admirals' leading scorer is Cody Glass, a player Wolves fans should remember well from the team's run to the Calder Cup Finals in 2019. Glass scored 7 goals (2 in OT) and had 8 assists during those playoffs and seemed destined to make his mark the next season with the Vegas Golden Knights.

But Glass, the sixth overall pick of the 2017 draft, has struggled with injuries and was traded to the Nashville Predators on July 17, 2021. The 23-year-old Glass played in just eight games for the Predators and ended up scoring 14 goals and dishing out 48 assists in 66 games for Milwaukee.

The Wolves owned the best record in the AHL, going 50-16-10. They beat the Admirals (39-28-9) in nine of 14 meetings (one in overtime).

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