Why Wolves center Gage Quinney could be close to a historic NHL call-up

If Quinney makes the jump, it’s believed he would be the first player born in Nevada to skate in the NHL. Barring a trade, Quinney would likely be playing for his hometown Golden Knights.

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If he reaches the NHL, the Wolves’ Gage Quinney could be the first Nevada-born player to make the league.

Ross Dettman/Chicago Wolves

Wolves center Gage Quinney has gone from an undrafted player to one with a chance to make history.

According to Hockey Reference’s database of NHL birth places, no Nevada-born player has ever reached the big league. Quinney, 24, was born in Las Vegas and is the son of former NHL winger Ken Quinney, who played five seasons with the Las Vegas Thunder of the old International Hockey League.

So if Quinney makes the jump, it’s believed he would be the first player born in Nevada to skate in the NHL. Barring a trade, Quinney would likely be playing for his hometown Golden Knights.

“Obviously, (getting called up to the NHL is) the goal,” Quinney said. “When you get that call you want to do whatever you can to stay up. That’s what you keep working for.”

Whether or not it happens, Quinney’s put himself in position to be considered.

Entering Friday, Quinney had 11 goals and 16 assists in 34 appearances. He’s perhaps the Wolves’ most reliable two-way center and plays in all situations.

“Obviously, you have to play defense sometimes on the rink,” Quinney said. “I think if you play both ways it really helps, and then you want to be in the offensive zone, so if you play harder in the defensive zone and get the puck then you can go play offense. That’s what I look forward to.”

On multiple occasions, coach Rocky Thompson has talked up Quinney as a future NHL player. He did again after Quinney’s Jan. 18 hat trick.

“He’s such a valuable player,” Thompson said. “I believe that when he gets an opportunity, he’ll be able to do a good job at the next level. I just think he’s very smart and he can play just up and down your lineup. We play him in all of our situations, and that was similar to last year, but I think he’s still improving on what was a great season last season.

“He’s continuing to take steps in the right direction.”

Quinney said his improvement comes partly from knowing the Wolves’ system even better than he did last season.

“With these coaches, it’s really easy,” Quinney said. “They make the game a lot easier. I love these coaches. Rocky’s helped me a lot, (Chris Dennis) and Bob (Nardella). I think we’re all pretty lucky to have them here.”

If Quinney takes the next step, it won’t be down to luck. He said he’s still motivated by not being drafted and a goal is to keep improving.

“If it happens, it happens,” Quinney said of getting called up. “If it doesn’t, that’s the business and sometimes it doesn’t go your way, but all you can control is how well you play.”

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