Wolves hope to turn Allstate Arena into the “Madhouse on Mannheim”

The Chicago Wolves practice at the Triphahn Center in Hoffman Estates on May 1st.

HOFFMAN ESTATES – If you are holding out hope for a championship in the Windy City this spring, you’re not out of luck.

Hopes for a winner rest in a hockey team that’s not the Blackhawks who play in Rosemont and not the West Side. Don’t think this particular AHL team doesn’t know that.

“The Madhouse on Mannheim,” said Chicago Wolves defenseman James Wisniewski, in reference to the traditional “Madhouse on Madison” nickname given to the United Center. “That’s the quote that we have right now. So hopefully we’ll keep going deep in the playoffs and watching this building fill up.”

The defenseman will get the shot to see that for the first time on Wednesday when the Wolves host the first game of the Central Division Final on Wednesday night against Grand Rapids at Allstate Arena. Game 2 of the Best-of-Seven series is Friday night before the series shifts to the Griffins' home ice for the next two games.

With the Blackhawks' surprising elimination in the first round against the Predators and the Bulls' unceremonious exit against the Celtics on Friday, Rosemont is the only place to see professional playoffs this spring.

"We hope so, for sure," said Wolves forward and AHL regular season MVP Kenny Agostino on getting some more fan support in their postseason. "We're the last playoff team standing, the city's ours right now so hopefully we can keep it for a little longer."

It's theirs for at least four games - but it took a rally to make that happen. In their Best-of-Five series with Charlotte an overtime loss at home in Game 3 put the Wolves on the brink of elimination. Craig Berube's team was undeterred by the pressure and scored four goals in the third period of Game 4 to force a deciding fifth contest.

The Wolves opened that game by scoring the first three goals and then held on for the 3-2 victory to advance to face Grand Rapids.

Staying as Chicago's only pro playoff team for the next month will be a challenge considering the Griffins beat the Wolves in eight of their ten contests this season - three of which went Grand Rapids way in overtime.

"It's gonna be a tough series," said Berube of the Griffins, whom he credited for having a strong four-line rotation. "You've got to do a lot of things right all the time against them. We're gonna have to defend really well against this team."

After all, they are carrying the torch for Chicago as April turns to May.