Calder Cup champs: Wolves win first AHL title since 2008

SPRINGFIELD, Mass — Alex Lyon stopped all 28 shots he faced as the Wolves wrapped up their fifth league championship with a 4-0 victory over the Springfield Thunderbirds on Saturday night in Game 5 of the Calder Cup Finals.

Captain Andrew Poturalski, Orland Park native David Gust, postseason Most Valuable Player Josh Leivo and defenseman Max Lajoie scored for the Wolves (14-4), who swept four games in six days from the Thunderbirds after losing in overtime in Game 1. Lyon pushed his postseason record to 9-3 with his second shutout of the playoffs.

“Credit to these players, man, they’re something special,” coach Ryan Warsofsky said. “We wanted to get a group together to do something special.

“It was never about winning a championship in November. It was, ‘Let’s have a really good day today and get better and win that day.’ You have to play for each other and you have to play for something bigger than yourself. Every guy in there bought into it.”

The Wolves became the first American Hockey League team in 22 years to produce two shutouts in the Finals while earning the right to raise a 2022 Calder Cup Champions banner at Allstate Arena that will go next to the ones for the 1998 Turner Cup, 2000 Turner Cup, 2002 Calder Cup and 2008 Calder Cup.

Goaltender Charlie Lindgren denied the Wolves early with two highlight-reel glove saves, but the visitors maintained consistent pressure and wound up scoring the opening goal for the 12th game in a row, thanks to Lajoie.

He chased down an errant shot along the left half-wall, scooted in and fired a shot that was blocked and came back to his stick. He chipped another shot that banked off defenseman Matthew Kessel’s upper body and across the goal line for a 1-0 lead at 18:39 of the first.

“I tried to hit [Ivan Lodnia] back-door and then got the puck back,” Lajoie said. “I just tried to put it on net. I think it went off their ‘D,’ but it’s a good bounce for us.”

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