The Iowa Wild started their post Christmas season off with a win against the Rockford IceHogs. John Curry was tremendous in goal for Iowa, stopping 38 of 39 shots. In the first period, Tyler Graovac scored a power play goal with assists to Keranen and Blum. In the second period, Rockford tied it up on a Teuvo Teravainen shorthanded goal. Later in that period, Iowa got an even strength goal from Schroeder with assists by Dumba and Keranen after extended offensive zone pressure . The most encouraging aspect of this game was the way that Iowa was able to defend their lead for more than an entire period. While it does take goaltending to do that, it also takes focus and a commitment to team defense, which Iowa had on Friday night.
The most discouraging aspect of this weekend was that Iowa was unable to sustain their solid play. On Saturday, Gustafsson got the start in net against the Grand Rapids Griffins because Curry was called up to play for Minnesota. It didn't take long for the Griffins to score--only 14 seconds into the first. Tyler Graovac got the goal back a little more than 3 minutes later (from Hagel and Mitchell), but that was as good as the game would get for Iowa as Grand Rapids scored the next 8 goals. Iowa also got a meaningless power play goal with less than a minute in the game to make the final score 9 to 2. Gustafsson was pulled to start the 3rd period after giving up 8 goals on 27 shots. Before the game on Saturday, Coach Torchetti talked to the media about the coaching staff's focus on improving Gustafsson's consistency, particularly in back to back situations. I doubt that the performance against Grand Rapids was what he had in mind.
News & Notes
Tom Witosky wrote another great article, this time about center, Tyler Graovac. Graovac was called up and may make his NHL debut tonight versus Winnipeg. He currently leads Iowa in scoring with 12 goals and 12 assists, which is one point less than he tallied in 64 games last season. With his consistent play in all zones and his regular scoring, he's definitely earned a chance in the NHL.