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Milwaukee tops Iowa in Des Moines, 5-4

Woodbury-native Brennan Menell nets his first professional goal, but the mistakes and an ineffective power play see Iowa drop to 0-2 to start the season.

Iowa Wild/AHL

A new night, but the same result. Milwaukee was able to score early and on their man-advantage opportunities and were able to move to 2-0 to start the season (and the Central standings). Iowa drops their second straight to start the year and the frustration continues to build around special teams while the team continues their search for the first points of the season.

There were some bright spots on the offense, but with the amount of penalty kills and power plays, there was very little time for Lalonde’s lines to really gel together. Iowa came out fast with 12 first period shots, but Milwaukee had all the luck coming to them. In the end, Iowa won the SOG battle 26-23, which seems expected given they played from behind, but last season it was something seldom won.

Niklas Svedberg (0-2-0) gets tacked with the loss and made 18 saves on 22 attempts. One goal was just an unfortunate re-direct, but with carrying three netminders, expect to see some changes by this upcoming Friday’s tilt with Ontario (Los Angeles). Anders Lindback (2-0-0) got another win while stopping 22 shots on 26 attempts. Iowa put the pressure on the Galve, Sweden-native, but the late goals came as too little, too late when the final horn sounded.

At the end of the first period, it was apparent that there was no love lost between these two clubs. Milwaukee opened the scoring in the first after an Menell shot attempt ended up in the bread basket of Tyler Kelleher who took off on a breakaway and put one past Svedberg for the 1-0 lead (Unassisted; 9:14).

Iowa didn’t take long to respond though and helped the rookie get his head back up. A great play on the fore-check by Colton Beck gained possession for the Wild and a nice pass to Pat Cannone in front of the net evened it up less than forty seconds later (Beck, Gabriel; 9:51).

AHL journeyman Cody Bass and Ryan Malone exchanged some words at the end of last night’s 5-2 tilt, and then exchanged knuckles with each other’s faces tonight. Bugsy got a great shot in that took some paint off of the Milwaukee winger’s helmet and went to the dressing room to applause and stick taps.

Later on, there was some déjà vu, or a glitch in the Matrix. Vladislav Kamenev was able to score as he bolted out of the penalty box following his slashing penalty (Kirkland, O’Brien; 13:34). With that, it was 2-1 Milwaukee, though Iowa ended the first ahead in shots (12-7) and power play opportunities (2-0).

The second period came in went with a bit of fanfare and another Milwaukee goal. Nick Seeler made a great play to stave off an attacking Anthony Richard, but a weak pass to Kloos was intercepted by rookie Tyler Moy who kicked it out to a trailing Trevor Murphy. Murphy’s clapper went off Richard who just happened to be in the right place at the wrong time for Svedberg (Murphy; 1:44).

Other than that, things were pretty quiet. A couple of penalties called on each side, but neither club was able to capitalize on the power play. Malone continued to play the role of fan favorite as he took exception to a Trevor Murphy slash and responded with a cross-check and a grab of the helmet. Both headed to the box and the period ended with :16 leftover seconds of 4-v-4 hockey.

Following a great battle in the corner by Gerald Mayhew, the puck moved to Mitchell at the blueline who swung it to Menell. The rookie who just signed an ELC on September 26th saw some open ice to move the puck forward to take the closer shot. He made it count and got his first professional goal (Mayhew, Mitchell; 2:29). A high note for the rookie, but unfortunately Milwaukee wasn’t done scoring.

After an Alex Grant high-sticking penalty about half way through the 3rd, Harry Zolnierczyk was able to get a wide open look off of a centering pass. Kunin was just a step too slow getting into position and the game continued in the favor of the Little Preds, 4-2 (Murphy, Gaudreau; PP, 10:33).

In similar fashion to the night before, Lalonde opted to see what could happen with Svedberg on the bench for an extra attacker. A couple of missed shots and some good defensive work looked good for a bit, but Frederick Gaudreau was able to eventually get the empty-netter to go up 5-2 on the Wild (Dougherty; 16:32).

But Iowa showed some fight, in terms of both resiliency and actual fisticuffs. Luke Kunin got his first goal of the season in dwindling time as his shot from the right circle went off of Dougherty and past Lindback (Beck; 16:36). Pat Cannone got his second of the night with a little over 30 seconds left to play, but Milwaukee was able to stave off the surging Wild for the 5-4 win (unassisted; 19:28).

At the end, the clock read 0.0, but some pushing and shoving in the corner came to blows and Landon Ferraro and Jimmy Oligny dropped the mitts for a little dancing. Iowa and Milwaukee won’t see each other again until the end of November, but the tone has been set for this Central Division battle.

Number of the night: 0 for 5. Iowa has seen 12 power play opportunities (five tonight) and has nothing to show for it. The penalty kill also gave up their second goal of the season. Special teams will definitely be the focus of practice this week before the Ontario Reign come to town on Friday.

The good: the youngsters scored. Brennan Menell hunkered down after another shaky first period and looked more comfortable moving the puck instead of one touch and rushing to pass right away. Kunin was able to get his first goal of the season which should definitely help build some confidence after being sent down to start the season. Despite the special team woes, the team showed a lot of fight both literally and figuratively.

Particularly impressive was the Mitchell-Kloos-Mayhew line that played well in the corners, has some flash with the sticks, and a good overall feel with crisp passing to generate opportunities. Playing from behind is never easy, and the amount of time spent playing special teams really took away from the line chemistry they’re trying to build.

Iowa will have a long week of practice ahead before the Ontario Reign come to town on Friday the 13th.