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Weekend re-cap: Iowa goes into the desert, but only comes away with one point against Tucson

The Iowa Wild (2-5-2, 6 pts) finished flat against the Roadrunners (7-1-1, 15 pts) Friday night in a 4-1 loss, and failed to protect a two goal lead in 5-4 overtime loss on Saturday.

Svedberg (35) skates off as Tucson celebrates one of their four goals on Friday night. Iowa was only able to come away with one point in the desert.
Tucson Roadrunners/AHL

Sorry for the tardiness, I was at a wedding in beautiful Wichita, Kansas and was able to tweet, but recaps are hard to do on a tiny phone screen. At any rate, the Iowa Wild (2-5-2, 6 pts) traveled out west to take on the Tucson Roadrunners (5-1-1, 11 pts) in search of four points, but were only able to come back to Des Moines with one following a 4-1 loss Friday night and a 5-4 overtime loss on Saturday night.

Game One

Niklas Svedberg (2-5-1, 2.94 GAA/.900 SV%) made his franchise record, eighth straight start for the Wild, making 24 saves on 27 shots in the loss. Goal number four was the ever present empty-netter with Iowa playing catch-up with an extra skater. Only one one other goalie in the AHL has started more games that Svedberg: Texas netminder Mike McKenna (5-2-1, 2.98 GAA/.886 SV%). On the opposite end of the ice, Marek Langhamer (1-0-1, 1.45 GAA/.949 SV%) started for the Roadrunners, stopping all but one of Iowa’s 29 shots en route to the win in his second start of the season.

Looking at the pre-game, the Roadrunner rookies came out in force in this one. After a scoreless first period ending with Iowa leading the shot total, 9-4, Tucson broke the deadlock with a Lane Peterson goal late in the second (Capobianco; 18:27). The third began with the ice tilting in the favor of the Coyotes affiliate as Nick Merkley netted two goals nearly two minutes apart within the first seven minutes of the period (Crouse, Hanley; 4:17/Mayo, Hanley; 6:49).

Iowa struggled to get their offense going late, only being able to get off eight shots while playing from behind. Lalonde decided to pull the goalie despite being down three to see how the offense would respond. Unfortunately, Tyler Gaudet was able to get the empty-netter for his second goal of the season (Mermis, Strome; EN - 17:54).

The lone bright spot for Iowa came less than a minute later as Colton Beck extended his goals scored streak to six games. Following a tipped puck at the red line by Mario Lucia, Beck was able to control the puck near the top of the left circle at the half boards. With Langhamer taking away the near post, the Langley, B.C., native went with the rare backhand, far post for the goal (Lucia, Warner; 18:44).

The defensive side of special teams held up, stifling all three of Tucson’s power play opportunities. However, Iowa’s own power play went 0-for-4 on the night, and 2-for-40 on the season.

Game Two

Though Iowa had the edge in SOG in the loss Friday night, their lackluster third period where they were outshot while behind raises questions about the potency of the offense. Saturday night, the team responded, but were only able to come away with a point in a 5-4, overtime loss.

Ádám Vay (0-0-1, 4.74 GAA/.853 SV%) made his first start of the season and first start in the AHL for Iowa, stopping 29 of Tucson’s 34 shots in the overtime loss. According to the Iowa Wild Twitter account, he became only the fifth Hungarian-born player to make a start in the league. Unfortunately, he was unable to protect a 3-1 lead in the third period. Stacy, Minn., native Hunter Miska (3-0-0, 4.02 GAA/.884 SV%) got the win, stopping 37 of Iowa’s season high 41 shots. With Arizona struggling with injuries, the rookie was called up Sunday night.

After being outshot while trailing in the third Friday night, the Iowa offense stopped the murmuring, launching 13 shots towards Miska in the opening period; their highest first period total of the season. Alex Grant opened the scoring for the visitors, as he received a pass from Sam Anas in the slot, dropped to a knee, and lit the lamp for the defenseman’s second goal of the year (Anas, O’Reilly; 6:18).

Following a Kyle Capobianco hooking penalty, Iowa headed to the power play where rookie Brennan Menell fired one from the high slot for his second goal of the season and first on the PP (O’Reilly, Anas; PP - 13:59). Menell has been playing a lot of minutes for Lalonde. It was his third start in three games and he’s been a prominent member on both the power play and the penalty kill for Iowa.

In the second, it was Lane Peterson scoring in back-to-back nights and cut Iowa’s lead in half heading into the final period (Strome, Latta; 17:43). It was only the second time Iowa had started the third period with a lead this season.

Less than five minutes into the third, Iowa regained the two goal lead following a great forechecking effort from Gerald Mayhew to cause a turnover in the offensive zone. Ryan Murphy was able to feed Justin Kloos in the slot and Miska didn’t stand a chance. The Lakeville, Minn., native got the goalie belly down on the ice with some quick hands and lifted a backhand goal (Murphy, Lucia; 4:49).

Tucson was able to answer with a Michael Bunting goal less than a minute later and Michael Latta got the equalizer early into the latter half of the period (Mermis, Looke; 5:24/MacInnis, Sislo; 11:56). Iowa got another break, however, going to their ninth power play of the night following a Tucson bench penalty for too many men. Cal O’Reilly camped out on Miska’s far post and was able to get a pass from Anas behind the net to regain the lead with a little less than six minutes to play (Anas, Rau; PP - 14:05).

Vay got another opportunity to hold the lead, and his first situation of holding it late. Unfortunately for the young goalie from Budapest, he was unable to keep it. With the clock winding down, Dylan Strome was able to make a cross-ice pace from below the dots and through five Iowa defenders to Latta. Vay was unable to move quick enough from post to post, and the St. Clements, Ont., native buried it (Strome, Crouse; 18:54).

Overtime started and Iowa was able to get off two shots before Tucson got their first opportunity. Unfortunately, they only needed the one as Strome got his third assist of the night, feeding Ryan MacInnis in the slot for the game winner (Strome, Hanley; 3:19).

Summary

Number for the weekend: 0. If you want a silver lining for the weekend, Iowa’s penalty kill unit continued to be successful, closing out all eight of Tucson’s power play opportunities. The Roadrunners had been one of the most efficient power play units coming into the weekend with seven goals and 20.0% success rate. After playing Iowa, the Coyotes-affiliate dropped to 16.7%.

On the other side of that, Iowa moves their PK success rate to 88.9%, which is tied for fourth best in the league with the Chicago Wolves. The Wild are also the second most penalized team in the Central with 45 short-handed situations.

Sam Anas recorded his first points of the season since coming back from injury earlier last week. His three assists on the night accounted for his highest single game point total in his AHL career and his first multi-point game since he scored two goals against Texas in early March last season.

Iowa will get a few days off as they come back to Des Moines for a few practices before the San Antonio Rampage (6-2-0, 12 pts; Colorado Avalanche/St. Louis Blues) come to town. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:00 CST Thursday night.