Hockey

Rocky Thompson, Wolves keeping eyes on the present

Since December, the Wolves have been the hottest team in the American Hockey League. With a 28-8-3-1 record in their last 40 games, the Wolves have vaulted into the Central Division race and emerged as a threat to make a long run in the Calder Cup playoffs.

But coach Rocky Thompson isn’t thinking about any deep postseason journeys or whether his team is peaking too soon. He’s more concerned about the present.

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“I look to today and what I can do today to get better, and that’s what I did back in October,’’ Thompson said. ‘‘It’s what I did in November. It’s what our team does. I’m the leader of this team, and people use my example every day. I don’t look and say, ‘We’ve got to win this next game; we have to do this.’ No, we’ve got to do what we need to do today in order to be better to give ourselves an opportunity to have success tomorrow.

Wolves forward Brandon Pirri, left, joins Beau Bennett, Kevin Lough, Griffin Reinhart (obscured) and Tomas Hyka to celebrate a Pirri goal. | Ross Dettman/Chicago Wolves

“When we take that approach every day, we get better. We get better as a group, we get better as individuals and the results always come in the end.”

At the beginning of the season, the results weren’t coming. The Wolves began 5-11-4-1 for a host of reasons.

Because of injuries to Vegas goalies, the Wolves lacked consistency and depth in net. Thompson and his staff were coaching Golden Knights prospects who had never played together, while building a team from two organizations — parent club Vegas and St. Louis — a rarity in today’s AHL.

“I don’t know if [the Blues’ organization] trusted us because we’re Vegas staff or how much they trusted us, so it was important for them to get to know us and understand that we had their best interests at heart,” Thompson said. “Then we had to bring the group together as a team and help them understand that we’re the Chicago Wolves. We’re not the Vegas Golden Knights; we’re not the St. Louis Blues. We’re the Chicago Wolves, and that’s what counts. We’re going to help each individual get better, and we’re going to help us grow as a team.”

It took a little time for that trust to emerge and for the goaltending situation to calm down, but it did in December. Now the Wolves have a .615 points percentage, third in the Western Conference at the start of play Wednesday.

“Once that team came together, I thought the results started to happen for us,” Thompson said.

Follow me on Twitter @BrianSandalow.