Wolves left wing Kenny Agostino isn’t one to get wrapped up in individual achievements, even when it involves being named the American Hockey League’s MVP.
Agostino led the AHL with 83 points (24 goals, 59 assists). He’s the fourth Wolves player — and first since 2008 — to earn the Sollenberger Trophy.
But rather than focus on his part in helping lead the Wolves to a Central Division title and back to the Calder Cup playoffs, Agostino prefers to focus on what’s ahead.
The Wolves open their first-round series on the road against the Charlotte Checkers on Thursday night. The series shifts to Allstate Arena beginning Sunday.
Although the Checkers finished fourth in the Central, Agostino only needs to look as far as the NHL playoffs to know nothing is guaranteed.
“Every team in the playoffs has the same goal, that’s to be the last team standing,” Agostino said Wednesday. “As great as we were during the regular season, those numbers really don’t mean anything. However, our play and our mindset doesn’t change. We’re going to approach Game 1 the way we’ve approached all season.”
Agostino helped pace the Wolves to a 101-point regular season, but the former Yale standout had plenty around him. Center Wade Megan led the league with 33 goals, and the Wolves tied for third in the league with 251.
The Wolves thrived all season on balanced scoring lines, despite shuffling players between Chicago and the parent-club St. Louis Blues. Agostino said the Wolves’ success is a testament to the work ethic that first-year coach Craig Berube instilled after they failed to make the playoffs last season.
“I think we all realized early on that [Berube] expects us and demands us to play a certain way,” said Agostino, who played in seven games for the Blues this season. “He demands you to play the right way. It doesn’t matter who you are. If you’re not working hard night in and night out, he’s going to get on you or you’re going to get your ice time limited. I think we really fed off of that and thrived off of that.”
Agostino believes the Wolves have another gear in them. And like with the numbers he piled up this season, Agostino said he and his teammates will leave their regular-season accomplishments behind and stay locked in on capturing the Wolves’ third Calder Cup championship and first since 2008.
“The competitiveness in our group is so special,” Agostino said. “I think we’re even hungrier now. You can sense it in practice. Everyone is a little more dialed in and more focused. It’s really encouraging.”
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Wolves’ first-round schedule
Game 1: 6 p.m. Thursday at Charlotte
Game 2: 6:15 p.m. Friday at Charlotte
Game 3: 2 p.m. Sunday at Wolves, Ch. 26.2
*Game 4: 7 p.m. Tuesday at Wolves, Ch. 26.2
*Game 5: 7 p.m. Wednesday at Wolves, Ch. 26.2