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Wolves ring in the New Year

The second half of season is around the corner and there’s no shortage of news from Chicago.

Thursday, 05.01.2012 / 6:52 PM / Features
By Ronil Desai
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Wolves ring in the New Year

From debuts to all-star appearances, here’s what’s making headlines in Chicago.

The Wolves ended the year after a demanding stretch with four games in six nights posting a record of 2-2. The squad kicks off 2012 this coming weekend with a triple-header starting Friday January 6th against the Peoria Rivermen followed by two home games vs. Lake Erie and Charlotte.

INDIVIDUAL HIGHLIGHTS

27-year-old forward Byron Bitz joined the Wolves on January 4th and is slated to make his debut tonight against the Peoria Riverman. After being sidelined with injuries since March 27th 2010, the Saskatchewan native is expected to continue where he left off in regards to physicality, registering 83 hits in 52 games from the 2009-10 season.

It's been nearly two years since Bitz hit the ice but the 6-foot-5 215-pound right winger is ready to make an impact.

On January 30th the 2012 AHL All-Star game takes place and 21–year-old Kevin Connauton was recently selected to represent the Western Conference. The blueliner has a knack for finding the net, racking up 18 points in 32 games, making him the third highest point scorer for the Wolves.

The defensive quarterback is taking the right steps to surpassing his point total of 23 last season by tallying in each of the four games to end the year. Connauton, in conjunction with right winger Darren Hayder, who leads the Wolves with 30 points, will represent the Wolves at the Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, N.J.

Chris Tanev dished out the holiday spirit to his fellow teammates in December, collecting 10 assists through 14 games. The young 6-foot-2 defenceman starts the New Year with a plus three rating and is fully integrated into the lineup, joining Connauton as the No. 1 defensive pairing.

Alberta-native Steve Reinprecht notched his first two goals of the season, which included his first career AHL marker on December 26th. Reinprecht is third on the team in assists with 15 and fifth overall with 18 points in 24 games.

WHAT LIES AHEAD

After playing just 15 of their 32 games at the Allstate arena, tied for the fifth-fewest home tilts in the AHL, the Wolves can ease up on their trips to the airport and prepare for a season-high six game homestand starting Saturday. The yellow and red have managed to haul a consistent effort at the Allstate Arena with an 8-5-0-2 record.

The Wolves will suit up against Midwest Division foes in four of their next five in hopes of climbing up the divisional standings. Chicago currently holds an 8-7-0-1 record in divisional tilts and rank fourth in the Midwest with 36 points.

A solid 40 minute start could prove to be the difference seeing that their record after leading in the second is an impressive 15-1-0-0 compared to the lackluster 0-10-0-0 when trailing after the second.

OFF THE ICE

Chicago Wolves forwards Tim Miller alongside Michael Davies understand the importance of reading and are heading to local libraries as a part of the “Read to Succeed” program.

The “Read to Succeed” program illustrates the value in recreational reading and encourages children to take advantage of the resources libraries have to offer.

Throughout the season, more than 17,000 children will take part in the program, with several Wolves paying a visit to libraries throughout the Chicagoland area.

For more information click here.