By Nick Zazulia
22-year-old winger Ty Ratti had notched four goals and three assists through three games for the Chicago Wolves when general manager Wendell Young got the call letting him know that Ratti would be promoted to their NHL affiliate, the St. Louis Blues.
The division-leading Wolves lost their next game to the 2-3 Rockford Ice Hogs.
The team rallied and ripped off three straight. With Sunday’s 2-0 win over the Manitoba Moose, the Wolves are now 5-1-0-1 and still in control of the AHL’s Central Division.
“When you lose a guy like Ratti, who is your leading scorer, that changes three lines,” said coach John Anderson. “You have to move guys everywhere to adjust. But that’s just life in the American Hockey League.”
If your best players being promoted is commonplace, then depth is paramount, and some depth players were were getting ice time Sunday evening. With the Wolves playing the Moose for the second time in three days, both teams rested their normal starting goalies.
The result? Chicago’s Pheonix Copley and Manitoba’s Eric Comrie combined for a stifling .964 collective save percentage on 56 total shots in the game.
The first period in particular was offensively stunted, with the Wolves tallying 10 and the Moose only four shots on goal, none finding twine. Wolves right winger Magnus Pääjävi chalked the lack of production up to Manitoba’s physicality.
“They jump up on us, they push a lot,” explained Pääjärvi. “We’re not used to facing that much aggressiveness. Both games it happened. Both games were 0-0 after the first [period].”
Ultimately, Wolves captain center Pat Cannone was able to score a goal in the second period (assisted by Ivan Barbashev and Zach O’Brien) and winger Jeremy Welsh closed out the scoring in the third.
Two goals is well below the Wolves’ season average of 4.3 per game, but it was enough on a night when Copley recorded his second consecutive shutout.
And, he gave Wolves fans a reason to feel comfortable if goalie Jordan Binnington follows in his teammates’ footsteps and gets called up to the NHL. Or if anyone else does, for that matter. Coach Anderson will just do what he always does: shuffle his lines and rely on his depth.
The Wolves next go on a 5-game road stand starting with a pair at San Antonio, while the Moose head to Charlotte. The two teams will meet back up in Manitoba Nov. 12.