The United States Hockey League (USHL) will produce more than a handful of Calder Cup Champions this year no matter who wins the AHL’s Calder Cup Final between the Chicago Wolves and Springfield Thunderbirds.
The best-of-seven series began in Chicago Sunday with the Thunderbirds winning a 5-4 overtime matchup at Allstate Arena. Game 2 will follow in Chicago before shifting to Springfield, Mass. for Games 3 through 5 at MassMutual Center.
Springfield Captain Tommy Cross registered a goal and an assist in the Game 1 win while Matthew Kessel and Hugh McGing added goals of their own. Dakota Joshua tallied an assist and Charlie Lindgren turned aside 33 of the 37 shots he faced. For the Wolves Jack Drury had a goal and an assist while David Gust found the net as well. Andrew Poturalski and Joey Keane each registered an assist while Alex Lyon made 30 saves in the overtime loss.
Springfield entered the Calder Cup Final with a 10-2-1-0 record after sweeping Semifinals and Finals matchups over the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins and Charlotte Checkers, respectively. In the Eastern Conference Finals, the Thunderbirds won every other matchup over the course of the seven-game series against Laval Rocket.
For the Thunderbirds, Sam Anas has led the way among USHL alumni with 14 points (4-10-14) in 13 games played. Fellow forwards Joshua (7-5-12) and Mackenzie MacEachern (6-6-12) each have 12 points in 13 games played. When called upon, Lindgren has been unflappable between the pipes with a 4-1-0-0 record, 2.47 goals against average and 0.924 save percentage. On the defensive side, Cross has provided a bit of offense as the Captain has chipped in eight points (2-6-8) in 13 games played.
Chicago holds a 10-1-2-0 record in the Playoffs entering the Final after a Semifinals sweep of the Rockford IceHogs before winning a five-game Finals matchup in four games over the Milwaukee Admirals. In the Western Conference Finals, the Wolves won the first three games before the Stockton Heat answered back with a pair of wins to force Game 6 back in Chicago, which the Wolves won in a 3-0 shutout.
Among USHL alumni, rookie Drury has led the way for the Wolves with 16 points (7-9-16) in 13 games. The former Waterloo Black Hawks forward (2016-18) leads rookie scoring in the Playoffs with four more points than the next rookie skater. Captain Poturalski (5-9-14) and Gust (3-7-10) both have double-digit point totals in 13 games during the Wolves Playoff run while CJ Smith (3-5-8) and defenseman Keane (0-7-7) are also producing at an elevated level. The previously listed skaters account for five of the top seven scorers for Chicago in the Playoffs. In net, Lyon has been nearly unbeatable for the Wolves with an 8-1-1-0 record, 1.96 goals against average and 0.924 save percentage.
Alumni on the Wolves and Thunderbirds account for five of the top 10 scorers in the AHL Playoffs this season as Drury is third, Poturalski and Anas are tied for sixth and Joshua and MacEachern are tied for ninth. Lyon’s goals against average is fourth best among league netminders in the Playoffs and second best among goaltenders in the Final.
For live coverage, be sure to follow the Wolves (@Chicago_Wolves) and Thunderbirds (@ThunderbirdsAHL) on Twitter and check theahl.com for scores and schedule.
Game 1: Springfield @ Chicago (Sunday, June 19 at 3:00 p.m. CT)
Game 2: Springfield @ Chicago (Monday, June 20 at 7:00 p.m. CT)
Game 3: Chicago @ Springfield (Wednesday, June 22 at 7:05 p.m. ET)
Game 4: Chicago @ Springfield (Friday, June 24 at 7:05 p.m. ET)
Game 5*: Chicago @ Springfield (Saturday, June 25 at 7:05 p.m. ET)
Game 6*: Springfield @ Chicago (Tuesday, June 28 at 7:00 p.m. CT)
Game 7*: Springfield @ Chicago (Wednesday, June 29 at 7:00 p.m. CT)
|Name||AHL Team||Position||Games Played (Goals-Assists-Points)||Games Played (Record, SV%, GAA)||USHL Team (Season)||NHL Draft|
|Anas, Sam||Springfield||Forward||13 (4-10-14)||Youngstown (11-13)|
|Callin, Drew *||Springfield||Forward||2 (0-0-0)||Des Moines (12-13)|
|Cross, Tommy "C"||Springfield||Defenseman||13 (2-6-8)||Ohio Jr. (07-08)||Boston (2007, Round 2, #35)|
|Drury, Jack *||Chicago||Forward||13 (7-9-16)||Waterloo (16-18)||Carolina (2018, Round 2, #42)|
|Gust, David||Chicago||Forward||13 (3-7-10)||Fargo (11-13)|
|Jacobs, Josh||Chicago||Defenseman||13 (1-1-2)||Indiana (12-14)||New Jersey (2014, Round 2, #41)|
|Joshua, Dakota||Springfield||Forward||13 (7-5-12)||Sioux Falls, NTDP (2012-15)||Toronto (2014, Round 5, #128)|
|Keane, Joey||Chicago||Defenseman||13 (0-7-7)||Dubuque (15-16)||NY Rangers (2018, Round 3, #88)|
|Kessel, Matthew||Springfield||Defenseman||13 (0-1-1)||Chicago, Fargo, Sioux Falls (17-19)||St. Louis (2020, Round 5, #150)|
|Lindgren, Charlie||Springfield||Goaltender||5 (4-1-0-0, 0.925, 2.47)||Sioux Falls (11-13)|
|Luce, Griffin||Springfield||Defenseman||2 (0-0-0)||NTDP (14-16)|
|Lyon, Alex||Chicago||Goaltender||10 (8-1-1-0, 0.924, 1.96)||Cedar Rapids, Omaha (10-13)|
|MacEachern, Mackenzie||Springfield||Forward||13 (6-6-12)||Chicago (12-13)||St. Louis (2012, Round 3, #67)|
|McGing, Hugh *||Springfield||Forward||13 (3-3-6)||Cedar Rapids (14-16)||St. Louis (2018, Round 5, #138)|
|Poturalski, Andrew "C"||Chicago||Forward||13 (5-9-14)||Cedar Rapids (11-14)|
|Santini, Steven||Springfield||Defenseman||13 (1-4-5)||NTDP (11-13)||New Jersey (2013, Round 2, #42)|
|Smith, CJ||Chicago||Forward||12 (3-5-8)||Chicago, Muskegon (13-14)|
|Wesley, Josh||Springfield||Defenseman||3 (0-0-0)||NTDP (12-13)||Carolina (2014, Round 4, #96)|
|Witkowski, Luke||Springfield||Defenseman||12 (1-1-2)||Fargo, Ohio Jr. (07-09)||Tampa Bay (2008, Round 6, #160)|