The end of the AHL season is a little over a week away for the Central Division. There is quite a tight race to crown the Sam Pollock Trophy winner this season. With no playoffs on the horizon, three teams are barreling towards the light at the end of the tunnel and first place in the Central.
The current standings (as of May 6) have the Chicago Wolves sitting squarely in first place. With the Cleveland Monsters (2nd) and Grand Rapids Griffins (3rd) in tow.
With six games left in the season for the Wolves, seven is the lucky number for Chicago to clinch the first place spot.
For the Griffins to take the division, Grand Rapids needs to win pretty much every single one of their last six games. To get through those next games, the Griffins are going to have to play twice against the Wolves and three times against Cleveland’s top notch power play.
If the Wolves beat the Griffins in regulation on Friday, May 7th, Grand Rapids is knocked out of the division race. Leaving the battle between Cleveland and Chicago.
We will be updating how the race for the Sam Pollock Trophy is going after every game the three play.
Friday May 7th, 2021 – Chicago Wolves (4) at Grand Rapids Griffins (5)
A last second goal by Riley Barber gave the Grand Rapids Griffins the 5-4 win over the Chicago Wolves. Barber’s goal didn’t just seal the deal on an intense game. It kept the Griffins in the race for the Sam Pollock Trophy. Due to the loss to the Griffins, the Wolves magic number still sits at seven. On Saturday, the two teams meet again to battle things out. This time they will meet in Chicago’s barn where Grand Rapids has yet to win all season.
The second place Cleveland Monsters play on Saturday against the Rochester Americans. A win from the Monsters and the Griffins will make for an even closer race for the trophy.
Riley Barber doesn't have time for overtime shenanigans and scores with 12 seconds left in the third period.
— Elaine Shircliff (@imaraindancer) May 8, 2021
Saturday May 8th, 2021 – Rochester Americans (4) at Cleveland Monsters (3) – Shootout
An early third period goal by Jean-Sebastien Dea of the Rochester Americans helped push their game against the Cleveland Monsters into extra play. Speaking of Dea, he scored the lone goal in the shootout to take down the Monsters, 4-3.
— Elaine Shircliff (@imaraindancer) May 9, 2021
The Monsters loss dropped the Chicago Wolves magic number to six. However, at the end of the Monsters game, the Wolves and Grand Rapids Griffins were entering the third period. The Griffins were leading 3-1.
Saturday May 8th, 2021 – Grand Rapids Griffins (3) at Chicago Wolves (1)
Led by Pat Nagle’s 23 saves, the Grand Rapids Griffins took down the Chicago Wolves 3-1. Per usual for the AHL, the second period was where the bulk of the action and scoring took place.
With the Griffins’ win, the Wolves magic number stayed at six. While, Grand Rapids crept closer to the two spot which Cleveland currently holds.
The Griffins and Monsters will play their final three games against each other in what could be the battle for first place in the Central. Chicago has four games left playing Rockford three times and Grand Rapids once.
Monday May 10th, 2021 – Rockford IceHogs (5) at Chicago Wolves (6)
The Rockford IceHogs gave the Chicago Wolves a run for their money on Monday. After allowing four straight goals in the first period, the IceHogs fired back making a run at an ultimate comeback. Chicago was able to hold Rockford at bay long enough to skate away with the 6-5 win.
Due to the win over Rockford, Chicago’s magic number fell to four. With three games sitting between now and the end of the season, securing four points doesn’t seem like much of a challenge for the Wolves.
Tuesday May 11th, 2021 – Grand Rapids Griffins (2) at Cleveland Monsters (0)
Grand Rapids netminder Kaden Fulcher earned his first AHL shutout in the Griffins 2-0 win over the Cleveland Monsters. This was also the first time the Monsters were shutout this season.
With the Monsters loss, the Chicago Wolves magic number falls to two. On Wednesday night, they play in Grand Rapids against the Griffins. A win secures the Wolves the Sam Pollock Trophy. A loss keeps the race alive.
Wednesday May 12th, 2021 – Chicago Wolves () at Grand Rapids Griffins ()
After a commanding win against the Cleveland Monsters on Tuesday night, the Grand Rapids Griffins fell to the Chicago Wolves 7-0.
With this win, the Wolves clinch the one spot in the Central Division officially ending the chase for the Sam Pollock Trophy. This is the fourth time in the past five years Chicago has ended the season first in their division. Also of note, the Wolves have completed this challenge with three different affiliates (Vegas, St. Louis, and Carolina). On a more technical note, they did it while using players from four different teams. This year the Wolves also had the Nashville Predators prospects in the mix.