By Sara Romano
It’s not every day that a minor league hockey team has the opportunity to star in a romantic comedy alongside the likes of Alicia Silverstone.
But that was exactly the case Tuesday morning with the filming of Silverstone’s latest movie “Who Gets the Dog?” in which her co-star Ryan Kwanten plays a goaltender for the Chicago Wolves.
While the Wolves players enjoyed the opportunity to be extras in the film, there was one person who was less than pleased to have his team’s practice routine interrupted.
Coach John Anderson made his displeasure known as he burst out of the locker room in the middle of a scene, unleashing a tirade of screaming and swearing that sent his team scurrying for the ice as they prepare to open an all-important seven-game homestand against Milwaukee Wednesday night at the Allstate Arena.
Coming off a two-game road sweep of the Charlotte Checkers this weekend, the Wolves currently sit in eighth place in the Western Conference standings. Their four opponents over the seven-game home stretch – Milwaukee, Oklahoma City, Grand Rapids and San Antonio – are all ahead of Chicago in the standings, giving the team a chance to gain some ground before the playoffs.
The Wolves turn their immediate attention to the division-rival Milwaukee Admirals, who have beaten Chicago four times in six meetings so far this season.
“We’re stepping it up a weight class with Milwaukee,” Anderson said. “We’ve got to turn it up a little bit more, and we understand that. Or I hope we do. We’ll find out.”
Wolves forward Shane Harper is optimistic the team can use the homestand to make a move up the conference standings.
“We’ve been on the road for the majority of the season, and it’s nice to have that homestand …” Harper said after practice Tuesday. “We’re going to have to take advantage of it. We’re coming off two wins and it would be nice to stretch some wins together here and come into playoffs hot.”
Harper has been red-hot himself over the past week, accumulating five points in three games. His nine-game point streak is the longest active streak in the AHL.
The Wolves have played the fewest home games in the league to date, but will play 19 of the final 28 contests on their home ice. The team is 9-6-3-1 at the Allstate Arena this season.
The Wolves have remained in the eight-team playoff picture for much of the season, but have yet to put together a win streak longer than four games.
Anderson pointed to injuries and call-ups to account for the team’s erratic play thus far this season, but said that is the nature of hockey and the AHL.
“As we get everybody back and we get everybody fitted into the right holes and where they are going to succeed the most, that’ll help us create more consistency,” Anderson said. “At least that’s the game plan.”
Despite the team’s up-and-down play over the past month, Harper said he is confident the Wolves can make a serious push the rest of the way.
“We kind of did the same thing last year,” he said. “We were middle of the pack, middle of the pack, and then we came back and won our division within the last weekend. I think that’s something we can do again, but it’s going to have to start now, ‘cause it’s getting down to the nitty-gritty.”