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Cody Glass has been a significant part of the Wolves’ run to the Calder Cup Final

Cody Glass is finally playing professional hockey. Two years after being drafted sixth overall by the Vegas Golden Knights at the 2017 NHL Entry Draft, Glass, Vegas’ first draft pick in franchise history, has contributed meaningfully to the Chicago Wolves’ run to the Calder Cup Final.

Glass, 20, has three postseason game-winning goals, tied with teammates Keegan Kolesar and Daniel Carr for the most in the league. Through the first 17 games of the Wolves’ Final run, Glass has contributed 12 points, including six goals, tied for fourth-most on the team.

“I want to make an impact,” Glass said. “To be able to contribute in a way like that is awesome, and ultimately it’s helped get us to where we are today, but our team’s been playing unbelievably so I can’t say enough good things about them.”

The first true test of Glass’ career came after a rough knee injury back in January as a member of the Portland Winterhawks. He says recovering from the injury was one of the most important developments since playing for Chicago.

“Strength, that was one of the things I was a little bit worried about, seeing how I handled myself, and I’ve been doing a good job of that,” Glass said. “Obviously I had a knee injury coming in, and speed has been a little bit of an issue and that’s something I need to work on over the summer.”

Still, Glass’ contributions have been recognized by the team, especially coming from a player so young and with his first AHL experience coming in the postseason.

“He’s been great for our team,” veteran forward Curtis McKenzie said. “He’s a guy who’s very confident in what he can do and bringing that in, he’s really helped elevate not only our team but the players around him, and you can see why he was a high draft pick and that he’s got a bright future.”

Glass has played much of the playoffs on a line with Tye McGinn and Tomas Hyka. Hyka leads the team in points with 14 in 17 games, and McGinn is second with six goals. That line has been one of the most consistent in terms of production — something which has been crucial for the Wolves.

“He’s just getting better as the season gets longer,” Wolves head coach Rocky Thompson said. “He’s adjusted really well to the size and the speed of the opposition and he’s not afraid to get to the dirty areas. He has the ability to make plays and he’s done a really good job of his transition from junior to pro. Sometimes guys of his caliber can adjust quickly, which he is and he’s getting better because of it.”

For Glass, this playoff season is as much of a learning opportunity as it is to prove himself to the Golden Knights’ front office at the professional level. With a group of veterans around, including McKenzie, who, like Glass, went to the Calder Cup Final (and won) in his rookie season, Glass has plenty of mentors to learn from.

“Probably the biggest [piece of advice] has been just take it one game at a time,” Glass said. “There’s times I try to force things or I get down on myself, and they’re always there to help me back up, just keep talking to me and giving me good information, just helping me with systems. They’ve helped with the little things and for a player like me it goes a long way.”

Of course, Glass isn’t the only notable youngster on the Wolves’ roster. Nic Hague and Zach Whitecloud, both rookies, have been the Wolves’ top pairing throughout the postseason and Dylan Coghlan, perhaps the Wolves’ best offensive defenseman (and also a rookie), recently returned from injury. Kolesar, another young forward, has known Glass since they were kids, growing up in Winnipeg.

“Hague and Coghlan, they’ve made me feel a part of the team since Day 1, helping me move into my place,” Glass said. “I’m always with them, pretty much 100 percent of the day. We watch movies every night and that’s what helps most, having best friends away from the ice. It goes a long way. With Kolesar, we train together in the summer time and have a lot of fun together. When you’re going on a run like this with a bunch of your friends, it just makes it that much better.”

Glass will continue to be important as the Wolves move on to their final test against the Charlotte Checkers. Charlotte enters the Calder Cup Final as the best team in the AHL’s regular season. Both teams, however, have fought the same fights to get to this stage — Charlotte also won their Conference Final in six games, one night before the Wolves moved on to the Final on Monday.

“I’m excited,” Glass said. “It’s been a long journey and our team’s been working for everything. It’s going to be a good test for us.”