The resilient Chicago Wolves reach the Calder Cup Finals for the first time in 11 years


The Chicago Wolves celebrate a goal in their 3-1 over San Diego in Game 6 of the Calder Cup Western Conference Finals at Allstate Arena. (Courtesy:Ross Dettman/Chicago Wolves)

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ROSEMONT – You might be able to get them down for a bit, but getting them out of the AHL’s Calder Cup Playoffs this year hasn’t been done by three Western Conference opponents over the past month.

The Chicago Wolves have proven a tough out in this postseason, even when they lose momentum, and because of it, they’re on the cusp of a championship.

After falling behind to the San Diego Gulls 2-1 in their Western Conference Finals series, the Wolves rallied back to win two-straight games on the road before finishing off their opponents on Monday night. A 3-1 win at Allstate Arena gives the Wolves their first Western Conference title since the 2008 season, and a shot to get the Calder Cup for the first time since that same season.

The Charlotte Checkers await them in the finals, with Game 1 and 2 slated to be played at the Bojangles Coliseum Saturday and Sunday.

All of the scoring came in the third with Curtis McKenzie and Keegan Kolesar scoring goals within 19 seconds of each other midway through the third period. After San Diego got one back in later in the period, McKenzie added another put the game away and give the team a celebration 11 years in the making.

Not since 2008 have the Wolves made it this far, and they couldn’t even get past the second round since that time until the run by this team over the last month. Down 2-1 in the best-of-five series to the Grand Rapids Griffins, the Wolves won Game 4 on the road then Game 5 at home to stay alive. They watched a 2-0 lead against Iowa evaporate on the road, only to win Game 5 on the Wild’s home ice before clinching a spot in the West Finals at Allstate Arena. Against the Gulls, the Wolves found themselves down 2-1 after a Game 3 loss in San Diego, but again turned the momentum with a pair of road wins and the triumph at home on Monday.

Next up are the Checkers, who were the best team in the AHL during the regular season with 110 points, and lost just three of their 14 games in getting through the Eastern Conference side of the playoffs. A championship is just four wins away, and if their previous series are any indication, Charlotte can’t rest easy if they’re able to get some momentum early.



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