The Iowa Wild had another tough weekend which began last Thursday morning with 5 to 3 loss to the Rockford Icehogs. Head coach Kurt Kleinendorst was not made available to the media after this loss. Instead, his normal media scrum role was performed by assistant coach Steve Poapst.
Poapst didn't offer any excuses for the loss, just disappointment that the team didn't play for the full 60 minutes. It was pretty obvious that the team didn't start at the beginning of the game since they were out shot 21 to 3 in the first period, allowing Rockford a two goal lead after the first. They allowed two more goals in the second, so the game was pretty much over by the time Brady Brassart scored Iowa's first goal with less than two minutes left in the second period. After the game, the media also spoke with defenseman Alex Gudbranson who explained the loss by saying "Everyone's got to come in every day and try to be their best [...] and work hard day in and day out, and we're not doing that right now."
The Iowa Wild also gave up the first goal on Saturday versus the Chicago Wolves but managed to score the next one, Marc Hagel's fifth of the season from Mitchell and Sutter. Chicago scored the next two, but a goal from Zack Mitchell to start off the third period gave the Wild hope of a comeback that would fall just short as Chicago scored an empty net goal to cap a game that was close enough to warrant pulling John Curry in the final minutes. Iowa even out shot Chicago 34 to 29 in what would be the Iowa Wild's best performance of the weekend.
The game on Sunday featured both Justin Falk and Stu Bickel getting ten minute misconducts in the first period after being the defense pair on the ice for Chicago's game opening goal. Bickel got angry that Iowa gave up the first goal again so he dropped his gloves, earning him seventeen minutes in penalties. This "fight" was not reciprocated by Chicago and earned them a five minute power play, which they scored on. Iowa was lucky that Chicago only scored one goal and lucky that the refs decided to give the Chicago player who was attacked a two minute penalty for being assaulted. Falk took his misconduct with less than four minutes left. Once again, Iowa was behind by two goals after the first period. Bickel's secondary assist on the goal by Zack Mitchell was Iowa's only goal of the night and was too little too late. After the game, Bulmer blamed the loss on not working hard enough when they get discouraged by not having puck luck.
Last season, the Iowa Wild were the worst team in the Western Conference, winning only 27 games in their first season after moving north from Houston. In preseason this year, Kleinendorst postulated that the team didn't win games because the management and coaching staff were focused more on developing players than on winning. He said that for the 2014-15 season, coaches had shifted their focus onto winning games, hoping that a winning culture would help players develop the sort of drive to win that would make the prospects into future NHL players. Kleinendorst on a video interview by Joe O'Donnell posted on 9/24/14: "I think you can develop by winning, and that's probably going to be a just a little bit of a modified approach from my end. We're going to talk a little bit more about winning. We're going to talk a little bit more about what it takes to win, and then the benefit of the winning is you're developing winners, but you're developing." This new approach doesn't seem to be working, as the Iowa Wild are currently the worst team in the AHL with only 4 points in the standings after 12 games played.
News & Notes:
- The Iowa Wild released Jake Parenteau and Nicholas Rioux their PTOs. They also recalled Corbin Baldwin from the Alaska Aces.
- They redesigned their website. It looks pretty snazzy.
- The Iowa Wild are participating in Movember and you can donate to their team.
- Coach Kleinendorst praised Marc Hagel's play after Saturday's game.