Sunday notebook: Terry keeps piling up points

Photo: Ross Dettman

Patrick Williams, Features Writer

The years have piled up quickly for Chicago Wolves forward Chris Terry, and so have the points.

The 15th-year pro became the 26th player in AHL history to reach the 700-point mark last Sunday when he recorded two assists in a 5-0 win over the Rockford IceHogs, helping the Wolves put an end to a six-game winless slide.

Through 766 regular-season games in the AHL, Terry now has 702 points (295 goals, 406 assists); earlier this season he passed AHL Hall of Fame members Don Biggs and Dave Creighton on the league’s career scoring list. Terry has also logged 152 NHL games in his career.

But putting up points is not what drives the five-time AHL All-Star, particularly at this stage of his career. While the early going has been a trying one, Terry came to Chicago looking to win his first Calder Cup.

There have been some encouraging signs lately for the Wolves, who began the season 1-6-1-1. Since then, they have received forward Vasily Ponomarev and defensemen Domenick Fensore, Griffin Mendel and Ronan Seeley on loan from the Carolina Hurricanes, and have won two of their last three outings. They took a 5-1 victory in Milwaukee last night in the opener of a home-and-home set with the Admirals.

It’s a start, perhaps, and more like what Terry signed up for after assessing his options back in July. From his days around the league and the many connections that he has, he felt confident that coming to Chicago could be a good career move. With the Wolves going without an NHL affiliate this season, Terry found the set-up intriguing.

“It’s something that I had never seen in my time in the league,” Terry said. “It became a spot that I was very interested in and very curious to see how it would go. I’m sure there are guys with a chip on their shoulder. I’m not going to sit here and doubt that.”

With a group of players pulled from a wide variety of backgrounds, Terry has liked how the team came together quickly despite the losing record. Some are top-tier veterans like him. Others are working to establish themselves as AHL regulars or players who needed a career reset. Still others came to Chicago just to get a foothold at the pro level.

“With our record, it hasn’t always been fun,” Terry acknowledged. “But at the same time, it’s been fun as a group to work out of this hole we’ve dug ourselves. Where I am in my career, I would really love to compete for a Calder Cup.”

Terry had his wife and son on hand last Sunday at Allstate Arena as he clocked his 700th point.

“As I get older, I cherish these moments a lot more to spend it with them and just look at how long we’ve been playing this game and being in this league,” he said. “I cherish those moments with my son around the rink. Those are the moments that I want him to remember, and I want to remember, too.”

The Lehigh Valley Phantoms had circled this road trip on their calendar: A swing through Laval and Belleville this weekend followed by a stop in Toronto on Tuesday. Their first extended trip of the season, and a chance for a host of new faces to bond away from home.

The trip has been a productive one so far, with the Phantoms capturing a 3-2 win over the Rocket on Friday followed by an 8-1 romp over the Senators last night.

Defenseman Ronnie Attard and forward Tanner Laczynski each provided a pair of goals at Belleville. Phantoms head coach Ian Laperriere will be counting on established players like Attard and Laczynski to take a club still in its formative stages through the opening months of the season.

“Ups and downs,” Laperriere smiled while describing his club’s first month. “But that’s why we’re here. You need to know what you have in the organization.”

After facing the Marlies, the Phantoms will face two more tough tests as Providence and Rochester visit PPL Center next weekend.

It was an adventure for the Abbotsford Canucks, but they made it.

After taking a 2-0 lead at Henderson yesterday afternoon, the Canucks saw the Silver Knights rally with two goals to force overtime. Then Abbotsford had to kill off a Henderson power play in OT. But they survived, and Tristen Nielsen’s shootout winner gave the Canucks a two-game sweep of their visit to Nevada and a five-game winning streak.

Helping to lead the way was goaltender Nikita Tolopilo, who had 31 saves. The undrafted 23-year-old Belarusian caught the parent Vancouver Canucks’ attention and signed a two-year entry-level deal with them last March after two seasons with Södertälje SK of Sweden’s second-division HockeyAllsvenskan circuit.

Tolopilo is an intriguing prospect; standing 6-foot-6 and 229 pounds, he had league-leading totals in games (45) and wins (28) last season while also producing a .910 save percentage and a 2.10 goals-against average. He made 41 saves in his AHL debut Oct. 14 at Laval.

Dustin Wolf returned to the Calgary Wranglers this week after a brief recall to the parent Flames and made 20 saves in a 5-4 shootout win at Ontario on Friday night. Wolf stopped all three attempts in the shootout as the Wranglers won their fifth consecutive game.

Wolf played one game for the Flames on recall, a 4-1 loss at Ottawa on Nov. 11. The reigning AHL MVP and two-time goaltender of the year has a .913 save percentage in seven AHL contests this season.

Going into a rematch this afternoon at Ontario, the Wranglers have a league-best record of 11-1-1-0.

A rare trip to the West Coast suited the Charlotte Checkers well. They went 3-1-0-0 on their first spin through the Pacific Division since 2016-17, finishing it with a 1-0 win at San Diego on Friday night.

With Spencer Knight and Mack Guzda unavailable, an opportunity opened up in net for Ludovic Waeber. The 27-year-old veteran of Switzerland’s National League, made 21 saves on Friday to earn his first AHL shutout; he is 4-0-0 with a 1.97 GAA and a .923 save percentage for the Checkers. Waeber signed a one-year deal with the parent Florida Panthers in the offseason.

The Checkers will now settle in at home for a six-game homestand that opens Monday against Cleveland.

All in all, Laval did more than survive this week.

The Rocket pulled out three wins in a demanding stretch of five games in seven days. The week began with back-to-back wins in Manitoba before they returned home and rallied from a four-goal deficit to defeat Belleville, 6-4, on Wednesday.

Six of a possible 10 points is a productive week, especially when you are missing leading goal-scorer Lias Andersson; the Rocket announced Saturday that he will be out six to eight weeks with a lower-body injury. Up front, Emil Heineman and Gabriel Bourque have also been out with long-term injuries while Philippe Maillet and Mitchell Stephens exited Friday’s game against Lehigh Valley and did not play last night at Utica.

The Rocket visit Rochester for a back-to-back set starting on Wednesday.

Rockford rookie forward Colton Dach pocketed his first career hat trick and added the decisive shootout goal to help the IceHogs to a 4-3 road win against Iowa last night. A night earlier, he picked up his first pro goal in a 5-4 loss to Milwaukee.

Dach, 20, went to the Chicago Blackhawks as a second-round selection in the 2021 NHL Draft. But a shoulder injury sustained last winter while representing Canada at the IIHF World Junior Championship limited him to 23 regular-season games in the Western Hockey League split between Kelowna and Seattle in 2022-23. He put in a strong finish as Seattle went to the Memorial Cup final, producing 14 points (three goals, 11 assists) in 19 WHL playoff games, but then came another setback this fall, a right-ankle injury in training camp with Chicago.

Dach made his pro debut on Nov. 4 and now has six points (four goals, two assists) through seven appearances.

The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins headed home from last Saturday night after securing back-to-back wins against the Bruins.

Friday night’s 4-2 victory featured Alex Nedeljkovic becoming the first goaltender in AHL history to score twice in his career. Nedeljkovic, who signed as a free agent with Pittsburgh during the offseason, had joined Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on a conditioning loan and was seeing his first game action since an Oct. 24 start vs. Dallas. He also made 17 saves, carrying a shutout into the final three minutes of the game.

The Penguins completed the sweep last night with a 2-1 win, as Joel Blomqvist, a 2020 second-round pick of Pittsburgh’s, made 30 saves. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton has points in six of its past seven contests (4-1-2-0).