The American Hockey League’s schedule makers didn’t do the Chicago Wolves (33-19-8-2) any favors this weekend, as the hockey club played a total of three games in less than 72 hours this weekend.
Following a 4-3 victory on Friday evening at Milwaukee, the Wolves fell 2-1 to the Manitoba Moose on Saturday at Allstate Arena. On Sunday, Chicago was forced to settle for just a single point in a 2-1 overtime loss to the Rockford IceHogs.
But despite what may look like a modest 1-1-1 record over the weekend, Wolves head coach Rocky Thompson is not disappointed with these results.“We were up against it I felt this weekend. Looking at the schedule, I was nervous,” Thomson explained.
“We were able to get that first win, and then the next game was obviously a tough way to lose last night. I mean Manitoba is one of the best teams in the league, and they were sitting here waiting for us. And then with Rockford coming in, they only had to play one other game this weekend, we felt that they would probably be fresher,” the coach reflected, before offering praise of his players.
“To be able to steal a point, I’m happy with [that]. Our guys competed as hard as I thought they could have, considering the circumstances. I’m proud of their effort,” he said.
Wolves take three points out of a tough weekend set. pic.twitter.com/0AuuAYqm84
— Chicago Wolves (@Chicago_Wolves) March 11, 2018
One of those players, was Sunday’s starting goalie Oscar Dansk, who was brilliant all afternoon to allow his teammates in front of him to settle down and find their legs.
“With three games in three nights, it’s tough on players. Especially a day like this, yesterday and today, you wanna help out your teammates as much as you can, because you know they’re going to be tired,” said Dansk, who stopped 37 of the 39 shots that the IceHogs fired on goal.
But in addition to the perseverance shown by the Wolves through the course of this busy weekend, coach Thompson emphasized that getting tested this way now, could actually benefit his team when the playoffs roll around.
“It tests you without a doubt. There’s going to be situations when you’re fatigued and tired and you’re going to have to push through. [In the playoffs], the only benefit is that the other team is in the same situation as you are. But our guys know that they can push through,” he said.
Naturally, coach Thompson would like his club to return to its winning ways in their next game, when the Wolves face Rockford in a rematch, but he doesn’t believe that he needs to reinvent the wheel for his players this week at practice. Instead, he feels the complete opposite.
“You know what, our guys need to rest. We came off the road, we’ve been away from our families a lot in the last three weeks. So our guys need to rest,” coach Thompson acknowledged following Sunday’s defeat.
“I’ve been pushing our team extremely hard in the last six weeks. I’ve really been grinding them, and that comes at a cost. And I think they need to get away from me for a little bit to refocus,” he added.
It’s sometimes easy to forget that professional athletes are also people who have families. And after the recent physically and mentally taxing stretch for the Chicago Wolves, it would be hard to imagine Rocky Thompson’s group not benefiting from a bit of rest and relaxation.