The Iowa Wild closed out the season series against the Charlotte Checkers last weekend, playing a pair of games. Charlotte's Brody Sutter started the scoring in the first period with a power play goal, after Olivier Archambault took a penalty for high sticking. Brody Sutter scored another goal eight minutes into the second. Brett Bulmer responded a couple of minutes later on a breakaway for his third goal of the season from Brady Brassart and Stephane Veilleux. After a third period fight between Ian Schultz and Mike Cornell, Schultz got an extra two for roughing, and Justin Shugg made Charlotte's lead two again on the ensuing power play. Gustafsson was screened and didn't have a hope of stopping Shugg's shot. With about five minutes left in regulation, Brady Brassart scored a pretty goal with his back to the net after accepting a great pass from Bulmer. But Iowa could not complete the comeback, so the final score was 3 to 2.
Kurtis Gabriel started the second game of the weekend by fighting Charlotte's Kyle Hagel six minutes into the the first. After a scoreless first period, Marc Hagel gave Iowa their first lead of the weekend, assisted by Jonathon Blum and Joel Chouinard. The lead only lasted a minute because Brody Sutter scored his third goal of the weekend. Charlotte added another second period goal, this time by Shugg, which gave the Checkers a 3 to 1 lead heading into the third period. Joel Chouinard scored 29 seconds into the third to give Iowa a fighting chance. After a late flurry, when Iowa almost tied it up, Zach Boychuk scored into an empty net with two seconds remaining. Iowa played a disciplined game with the only penalty minutes for Iowa going to Gabriel on his early fight. Even though the Checkers had no power play opportunities, Iowa couldn't manage a win.
On Tuesday, John Curry got his first game off in a month because Johan Gustafsson played against the Texas Stars for his first in game action since February 24th. Zack Mitchell scored his 16th of the season assisted by Hagel and Graovac. Early in the second, Chouinard added to the Wild's lead on an even strength goal from Veilleux and Blum. But Texas would close out the second with three goals of their own. Kurtis Gabriel made a bad pass that went right to Scott Glennie, and he deflected it to Derek Hulak who skated into the slot and potted an easy goal. Then a pinching Blum couldn't get back defensively quickly enough, and Devin Shore tied the game. With 20 seconds left in the second, Stars' captain Fortunus scored on the power play in a goalmouth scrum. Branden Troock added a fourth goal in the third period, and once again Iowa was staring at a huge deficit at game's end. With 20 seconds left in the game, Jared Knight scored his first for the Iowa Wild, and while it wouldn't be enough for a victory, it did add a bit of hope to the final minutes.
Tuesday's loss was Iowa's twelfth straight home loss. They haven't celebrated a victory in Des Moines since January 18th, when they won in overtime against the Lake Erie Monsters. Iowa will have two more chances to end their home skid when they face the San Antonio Rampage on Friday night and Saturday afternoon. The Wild will close out the weekend with a road game versus the Chicago Wolves.
Iowa Wild Links
- Minnesota seventh round pick Pavel Jenys signed an ATO and has reported to Iowa now that his season with the Sudbury Wolves of the OHL has concluded. He was the leading scorer of the Wolves, who ended the season with a CHL worst 12-54-1-1 record. I profiled him early this season if you'd like to learn more about him.
- The Minnesota Wild signed college free agent Grayson Downing to an entry level deal this week. He is expected to report to the Iowa Wild to finish out the season.
- Iowa Wild beat reporter, Tom Witosky, wrote about Brady Brassart's increased role as Brassart wraps up his rookie AHL season.
- Tom Witosky also interviewed Jared Knight about his adjustment to his new team.
- Audio of Tyler Graovac expressing his frustration with losing and discussing the drive to win as the Iowa Wild adds players making their professional debuts.