Chicago Wolves Preview: Your Guide to the Calder Cup Playoffs
By James Neveau
The Chicago Wolves have already won a division title this season, but they’ll be looking for a lot more than that when they kick-off the Calder Cup playoffs on Friday night against the Grand Rapids Griffins.
The Wolves, who won the Central Division title this season, have won the Calder Cup twice, most recently in 2008, and will look to secure their first title in a decade when they take the ice at Allstate Arena to get their postseason series underway.
Before the team gets the playoffs underway, here is everything you need to know about the club, the Calder Cup playoffs, and how to get in on the action this weekend at Allstate Arena.
The Trophy They're Playing For is an Icon
The Calder Cup is the oldest continuously awarded professional ice hockey trophy, having been awarded to professional teams since the 1936-37 season.
The Stanley Cup has been awarded to the NHL’s champion since 1926, but two factors lead to it not technically having claim to the title of “continuously awarded” trophy: the fact that the league didn’t gain control of the Cup officially until 1947, and the fact that no team won the trophy in 2004-05, due to a player lockout.
A Calder Cup Win Could be Historic for the Wolves (and the Knights)
The Wolves could become just the fourth team in history to win an AHL crown in the same season in which their parent club wins the Stanley Cup championship.
The Montreal Canadiens and Nova Scotia Voyageurs teamed up to win the Calder and Stanley Cups in 1976 and 1977, and the Albany River Rats won the AHL crown in 1995, the same season that the New Jersey Devils hoisted the Stanley Cup.
The Wolves’ parent club, the Vegas Golden Knights, are looking to get back to the Stanley Cup Final for the second straight season.
T.J. Tynan Headlines a Cast of Local Heroes
Tynan was one of the league’s most prolific offensive stars this season, scoring 12 goals and dishing out 59 assists. The Orland Park native was tied for the team lead in points, and led the AHL in assists this season.
Tynan also isn’t the only local player to make an impact for the Wolves, as center Stefan Matteau hails from Chicago and forward Ryan Wagner was born in Park Ridge.
AHL Games Are Affordable for Fans of All Ages
For fans looking to check out the AHL playoffs, their wallets will undoubtedly be happy. As it has been all season, parking around the Allstate Arena is free for the Calder Cup playoffs, thanks to a sponsorship deal with local car dealerships, and food and drink specials are prevalent in the arena.
A 12-ounce beer or a 16-ounce soda will set fans back $4, and hot dogs and small popcorns check in at just $3.
Tickets for the first two games of the postseason at Allstate Arena are also affordable, starting at just $15 on the team’s website for lower bowl seats.
How to Get to the Arena:
From Chicago, take Interstate 90/94 from the city, taking exit 76 from Interstate 90 West. Take Touhy Avenue to Lunt Avenue in Rosemont, and the arena will have parking lots surrounding it.
If you take the Tri-State, exit at Northwest Tollway (Interstate 90), exit at the O’Hare International Airport exit and take Mannheim Road north until you get to the arena.
The CTA also offers service to the arena, and fans can map out their journey on the agency’s website.
Full Schedule for Round One:
Here is the Wolves’ schedule for their first round series against the Griffins (home games are in italics) -
Apr. 19 7 p.m. vs. Grand Rapids
Apr. 20 7 p.m. vs. Grand Rapids
Apr. 23 6 p.m. at Grand Rapids
Apr. 24 6 p.m. at Grand Rapids*
Apr. 28 3 p.m. vs. Grand Rapids*
*= if necessary
For fans looking to catch the action on TV, all games will air on The U Too in Chicago.