ROSEMONT – The Chicago Wolves haven’t won the Calder Cup since 2008, which was also the last season they made it out of the second round, and they clearly hope to break that streak in the 2018 American Hockey League postseason.
Back in the 2008 season, the Wolves captured four-straight playoff series en route to the team’s fourth championship win. In the years since then, just getting past the second round has been a challenge, as they lost three times in the second round, four times in the first round, and failed to qualify four times.
Rocky Thompson’s team will get another chance to break through that barrier and continue their quest for a title Wednesday night when they face Iowa in the Central Division Finals. The 7 p.m. puck drop is the start of a seven-game series between the teams, which features a 2-3-2 format in which the Wolves have home ice advantage.
The teams are similar in a few ways as they start the series Wednesday, starting with the results of their own head-to-head matchups during the regular season. In those eight meetings, each team won four games and scored 21 goals against each other.
“It’s been a great series this year,” said Wolves head coach Rocky Thompson on Wednesday. “Every game has been really close; there’s overtime games, both teams have four wins. They’re a very, very good team, they’re very talented.”
In the playoffs, both the Wolves and the Wild went the distance to advance in the Calder Cup Playoffs. Down 2-1 to Grand Rapids, the Wolves rallied to beat them in Game 4 on the road, and then won the decisive Game 5 at home 4-2 on Sunday to advance.
Iowa had a 2-0 lead over Milwaukee in the other Central Division semifinal series, but dropped their next two games on the road to force a Game 5. There the Wild beat the Admirals 2-1 to earn their first series win since the team moved to Des Moines in 2013-2014.
“They had a tough series with Milwaukee – it went to five games as well. Again, I think they’ll be even better this series,” said Thompson. “So I’m really excited about Game 1 tonight.”
Now the Wild are the next team up for the Wolves in their 25th season, which they hope to keep going as they chase a title that’s eluded them from 11 years.