The Chicago Wolves are back in town this Thursday and Friday for another two-game set with the Abbotsford Heat, and if you missed them the last time around, make sure you head into the Valley for one or both of these games. They might be the biggest games of the year for both teams.
We’re all a little spoiled here in Vancouver — it’s been a few years since the home team was locked in a nerve-wracking race to make the playoffs. But if it’s desperate hockey you want, the Wolves are where it’s at. There are 5 points separating 3rd from 10th in the AHL’s Western Conference, and the Wolves, in keeping with their wolfy nature, are a part of the pack.
Chicago is in the Midwest Division, which has shaped up this season like the NHL’s Pacific Division. All the teams are competitive and the division title and its complimentary third seed are still up for grabs. Winning it could be the difference between making the postseason and sitting this year out.
Right now, the Wolves are holding down the top spot, having won 7 of their last 10 to open up a four-point gap on the Charlotte Checkers (Carolina Hurricanes) and the Peoria Rivermen (St. Louis Blues). But the Checkers have a game in hand. A couple losses in Abbotsford and the Wolves could find themselves outside the playoff picture entirely.
Meanwhile, the Abbotsford Heat are just one spot behind the Wolves, holding down the 4th seed by the skin of their teeth. They’re hardly guaranteed a playoff berth, with only 3 points separating them from the Lake Erie Monsters in 10th. Worse, they’re the league’s worst team at home, with only 13 wins there this season, but the league’s best away team. The likely pro-Chicago crowd could tease out a road performance from them if the desperation doesn’t.
All of this is to say that there’s a lot more to Thursday and Friday’s games than seeing the Canucks’ farm team. I mean, that’s still a valid reason, especially since Wolves such as Steven Reinprecht and Byron Bitz will be joining the Canucks come playoff time, Kevin Connauton will likely be with the big club next year, and I can assure you that you won’t be able to get as close to them when they’re wearing blue and green as you will be when they’re wearing maroon and yellow. But you could also just come for the quality hockey. These games will practically be playoff games.
Here are a few other reasons to go, via the Abbotsford Heat:
Mar 29 – The Chicago Wolves (Vancouver Canucks affiliate) are back for the final 2 regular season match-ups between these two teams. It’s HOCKEY HEROES NIGHT featuring a special Appearance by hockey legend, LANNY MCDONALD! It’s going to be a night of MO fun as we salute one of the game’s greats! And one of the greatest moustaches in hockey history! Game Sponsor, Cascades Casino.
Mar 30 – Not only is it a Loonie Toonie Dog ‘n Brew night with $1 hot dogs and $2 draught beers, it’s also Save-On-Foods’ ONE MILLION MORE REWARDS SWEEPSTAKES night!
So yeah. On Thursday, Lanny McDonald will be there. On Friday, hot dogs are a dollar and beers are two dollars. I mean, with respect to Lanny McDonald, how can you pass up $1 hot dogs? That’s Ikea value.
And if hockey players don’t float your boat — if it’s bloggers you want to see, for some weird reason — I’ll be there once again, doing colour commentary alongside Ryan Pinder, the Heat’s fabulous play-by-play guy for Country 107.1 FM.Tags: Abbotsford Heat, Byron Bitz, Chicago Wolves, don't encourage Harrison, Ryan Pinder is a man's man's man, Steven Reinprecht, the AHL is a good league too