AHL Weekly Release: Wolves playing numbers game

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. … Numerologists would have a field day with the 2006-07 Chicago Wolves, who continue to put up offensive numbers rarely seen during the American Hockey League’s 71-year history.

Chicago wrote another headline in their incredible season when Darren Haydar set an all-time league record by tallying a point in his 32nd consecutive game on Saturday. The record-breaking point was a second-period goal off rookie Josh Tordjman in a 2-1 overtime win over San Antonio.

Haydar came back from the Christmas break and ran the streak to 33 games with three assists in Tuesday’s game against Milwaukee.

Almost as amazing as the streak itself is the fact that the fifth-year pro is averaging better than two points per game, putting up 67 points already this season. Wolves teammate Jason Krog, who has missed the last seven contests while on NHL recall to Atlanta, is now a distant second in the league with 52 points.

Nobody outside of Chicago is within 20 points of Haydar (Norfolk’s Brandon Bochenski is fourth overall with 46 points), and no Western Conference player other than members of the Wolves is even as close as 30 points off the pace.

Chicago has scored 157 goals through 33 games, an average of 4.76 goals per match. Only two AHL teams since 1985 have lit the lamp as often: the 1992-93 Binghamton Rangers (4.90) and the 1992-93 Providence Bruins (4.80).

And thanks in part to their 254 power play chances, most in the league, the Wolves have scored 54 times with the man advantage, putting them on pace to better the existing AHL record (124 by the 1980-81 Nova Scotia Voyageurs).

There are currently four AHL players with at least 20 goals this season, and one of them is already closer to 40 than to 20. Wolves rookie Brett Sterling is starting to run away with the league’s goal-scoring race, with 32 goals in 31 games played and a double-digit lead over his nearest opponents.

The 22-year-old Sterling has scored at least one goal in seven straight games, and is nearly halfway to Stephan Lebeau’s overall and rookie record of 70 goals in one AHL season, set with the Sherbrooke Canadiens in 1988-89. Sterling, who won Rbk Hockey/AHL Rookie of the Month honors in November with 24 points in 12 games (14g, 10a), has followed that up with 14 goals and four assists in 11 games so far in December.

Also note:

  • Cory Larose is also streaking in Chicago, with 18 points (5g, 13a) during his current seven-game run.
  • Rookie Alex Bourret has 14 points in his last nine games.
  • Haydar (+20) and defenseman Brian Sipotz (+19) own the top two plus/minus ratings in the league.
  • Blueliner Boris Valabik continues to lead the league with 133 penalty minutes, and his +15 rating is tops among all AHL rookies.
  • Derek MacKenzie has three shorthanded goals, one off the AHL lead.

The result? A 24-7-1-1 record which has the Wolves leading the league in wins and points (50) with a current seven-game points streak (6-0-0-1). Chicago has won 15 of 18 on the road this season, and has scored at least five goals in a game in more than half (17) of its 33 outings overall.

The Wolves look to keep it going when Houston visits Allstate Arena on Wednesday night.

CONNECT FOUR … Chicago and San Antonio combined to score four goals in the final 109 seconds of the Wolves’ wild 4-3 win at the AT&T Center on Dec. 21. The Rampage tied the score twice in that span, but Brett Sterling put Chicago back in front both times.

The next night, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton scored the fastest four goals in team history, needing just 2:10 late in the first period to take a 4-0 lead over Bridgeport.

On Dec. 23, Rochester found that good things came in fours, also. The Amerks scored four power-play goals in a span of 4:28 during the second period, turning a two-goal deficit into a two-goal lead en route to a 6-5 win over Binghamton. Mike Funk scored once and Andrej Sekera twice during the outburst, the first pro goals for both defensemen.

The Senators paid it forward on Tuesday, scoring four second-period goals in a 4-2 win over Syracuse. And Iowa scored four times in the final frame to pull out a 5-2 win over Omaha.

12 DAYS OF GIVING … The San Antonio Rampage undertook a unique initiative leading up to Christmas, with players, coaches, wives and staff spreading holiday cheer each day from Dec. 11-22.

Included among the 12 Days of Giving were donating a Christmas tree (with all the trimmings) to five local families; purchasing and delivering presents to children at a local shelter; preparing and serving lunch to the city’s homeless and hungry; collecting toys for the U.S. Marine Corps Toys for Tots program and for a children’s hospital; baking Christmas cookies at a children’s home; “adopting” and buying gifts for a needy family; donating a suite for a Spurs basketball game to Special Olympics; and playing street hockey with kids at the Boys & Girls Club.

SPENGLER BOUND … Several AHL players were among those selected to represent Canada at the 80th Spengler Cup tournament in Davos, Switzerland, this week.

Playing for Canada are Toronto’s Justin Pogge and Jay Harrison, Grand Rapids’ Danny Syvret, Iowa’s Mario Scalzo, Manitoba’s Brandon Reid and Portland’s Tim Brent. The team is being coached by former AHL bench boss Pat Quinn.

ETC. … After going scoreless in his first 24 games, Albany defenseman Johnny Boychuk has five goals in his last six games, including a hat trick on Dec. 23 at Syracuse… Brandon Bochenski has 30 points (12g, 18a) during his current 13-game scoring streak for Norfolk… Milwaukee’s Rich Peverley also has points in 13 straight games… Jonathan Filewich became the first Penguins player to score two shorthanded goals in one game in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s 4-1 win over Norfolk on Saturday… Worcester teammates Mathieu Darche (3g, 2a) and Graham Mink (5a) each had five points in the Sharks’ 6-4 win over Manchester on Dec. 22… San Antonio was 5-0 in games decided beyond regulation before a 2-1 overtime loss to Chicago on Dec. 23… A 4-for-56 slide has dropped Bridgeport down to last in the league on the power play (12.6 percent), but the Sound Tigers remain first on the penalty kill (89.8 percent)… Through Tuesday’s games, three of the AHL’s four divisions show second-place teams one point behind the leaders.