American Hockey League

Thursday buzz: Wolf back after solid NHL debut

📝 by Patrick Williams

The Calgary Wranglers have some extra giddy-up in their step going into a weekend battle for the AHL’s regular-season title.

Dustin Wolf returned to the Wranglers today after making his National Hockey League with the Flames last night, a 23-save effort in a 3-1 win over San Jose. Joining Wolf in returning to the AHL will be forwards Jakob Pelletier and Walker Duehr.

Calgary will go into the regular season’s final weekend one point ahead of the Coachella Valley Firebirds for the Pacific Division title and the best record in the league. The Wranglers’ final two games are Friday and Saturday in Abbotsford, where the Canucks snapped Calgary’s 14-game point streak (13-0-0-1) — tied for the AHL’s longest this season — with a 2-0 shutout last night. The Firebirds close the regular season in Bakersfield on Friday and Saturday.

Along with the Macgregor Kilpatrick Trophy that is awarded to the AHL’s regular-season champion, either Calgary or Coachella Valley will also avoid having to play a best-of-three first-round series against Tucson; the first-place finisher gets a bye to the division semifinals.

For Wolf, who turns 22 on Sunday, last night’s NHL debut was a deserving reward for a dominating performance over his first two pro seasons in the AHL. He was named a First Team AHL All-Star for the second year in a row earlier today, and next week could add his second straight Baz Bastien Award as the league’s outstanding goaltender. He is also considered one of the front-runners for league MVP honors.

Pelletier, a first-round draft pick in 2019, also had a terrific rookie season in the AHL last year and has spent most of the second half of this year in the NHL, where he has picked up three goals and four assists in 24 games for the Flames. Duehr contributed seven goals and 11 points in 27 games with the Flames, along with 26 points in 41 games with the Wranglers.

Fresh off a national championship with Quinnipiac University, goaltender Yaniv Perets is off to the pro game with the Chicago Wolves.

Perets, 23, signed a two-year entry-level contract with the parent Carolina Hurricanes and has joined the Wolves on an amateur tryout deal. In his two seasons at Quinnipiac, Perets went 56-9-5 with a 1.34 goals-against average, a .935 save percentage and 21 shutouts. He was named to the 2023 Frozen Four All-Tournament Team and was a Mike Richter Award finalist and a Hobey Baker Award Top 10 selection.

Going into the weekend, the Wolves are three points behind Rockford for the fifth-place playoff spot in the Central Division. Chicago visits Milwaukee on Friday before hosting Grand Rapids and Manitoba to close out the regular season.

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