Kwiatkowski’s run has helped Wolves to brink of a title

WILKES-BARRE, Pa. … Chicago Wolves defenseman Joel Kwiatkowski had totaled three goals and 10 points in his team’s first 14 Calder Cup Playoff contests as he suited up for Game 2 of the conference finals against Toronto on May 18.

Since then, he has tied the AHL’s all-time record for a defenseman by scoring a goal in seven straight games, helping the Wolves move within one win of the AHL championship.

Kwiatkowski has matched a feat that was first attained by Brian Chapman during the 1992-93 regular season while a member of the Springfield Indians.

The 31-year-old Kwiatkowski, who did not score in more than two straight games during the entire regular season, has posted seven goals and 11 points over his current seven-game run. Six of his seven goals have come on the power play for a Wolves unit that is clicking at 23.8 percent this postseason.

After consecutive two-point performances (1-1-2) in Games 2 and 3 of the conference finals round, Kwiatkowski tallied the Wolves’ only goal in a 6-1 loss at Toronto in Game 4 on May 21.

Two days later, he began the team’s rally from a 2-0 deficit in Game 5, a contest Chicago would eventually win by a 4-2 mark to advance to its third Calder Cup Finals.

The Saskatoon, Sask., native entered the championship round and picked up right where he left off, tallying power play goals in each of the first two games against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, both victories.

With the Wolves trailing 1-0 in Game 3 on Wednesday, he netted his first even strength marker of the streak to kick off a five-goal second-period onslaught by Chicago en route to a 6-1 win and a 3-0 series lead.

A veteran of 282 regular-season NHL games, Kwiatkowski now has 10 goals in this year’s Calder Cup Playoffs, believed to be an AHL record for a defenseman. His 21 points rank third on the Wolves behind top snipers Jason Krog (33) and Darren Haydar (25).

In his 10th season, Kwiatkowski is bidding for the first championship of his professional career. The Wolves can capture their second AHL title with a victory in Game 4 of the Calder Cup Finals on Friday night in Wilkes-Barre.