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Photo: Ross Dettman

Wolves capture Western Conference title

Curtis McKenzie scored twice and Oscar Dansk made 28 saves to send the Chicago Wolves back to the Calder Cup Finals with a 3-1 win over San Diego on Monday night.

The Western Conference champions will take on the Charlotte Checkers in the Finals, with Game 1 set for Saturday night.

Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals was a scoreless duel for more than 52 minutes before McKenzie deflected Nic Hague‘s shot past Kevin Boyle to give Chicago a 1-0 lead with 7:32 remaining in regulation.

The Wolves then needed just 19 seconds to double the lead as Keegan Kolesar got a piece of Griffin Reinhart‘s shot and made it 2-0 with 7:13 to play.

The Gulls climbed back to within a goal as Sam Carrick scored a power-play goal at 14:51, but McKenzie rang his second of the night off the post and in with 3:05 left.

Winners of the Robert W. Clarke Trophy, Chicago is heading to the Calder Cup Finals for the fourth time in franchise history. Guided by head coach Rocky Thompson, the Wolves – the top development affiliate of the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights – won the AHL’s Central Division with a record of 44-22-6-4 (98 points, .645) before defeating the Grand Rapids Griffins (3-2) in the division semifinals, the Iowa Wild (4-2) in the division finals and the Gulls (4-2) in the conference finals.

The Wolves won the Calder Cup in 2001-02 and 2007-08 and were finalists in 2004-05.

Established in 1990, the AHL’s Western Conference championship trophy honors the late Robert W. Clarke. Mr. Clarke served as the Chairman of the AHL’s Board of Governors from 1967-94, and in 1956 he played an instrumental role in the formation of the Rochester Americans, one of the most successful franchises in AHL history.

Western Conference Finals – Series “N” (best-of-7)
C1-Chicago Wolves vs. P3-San Diego Gulls
Game 1 – Fri., May 17 – CHICAGO 5, San Diego 4 (OT) | Recap/Highlights
Game 2 – Sat., May 18 – San Diego 3, CHICAGO 0 | Recap/Highlights
Game 3 – Wed., May 22 – SAN DIEGO 3, Chicago 2 | Recap/Highlights
Game 4 – Fri., May 24 – Chicago 2, SAN DIEGO 1 (2OT) | Recap/Highlights
Game 5 – Sat., May 25 – Chicago 5, SAN DIEGO 2 | Recap/Highlights
Game 6 – Mon., May 27 – CHICAGO 3, San Diego 1