The Iowa Wild came out a bit flat against the Cleveland Monsters (Columbus Blue Jackets), but after finding themselves in a 2-0 hole, the crew battled back to force overtime. It was Sam Anas showing off his mitts for the lone goal of the shootout as Iowa took home two more points in their third straight win.
Niklas Svedberg (4-6-1; 2.74 GAA/.906 SV%) got his first start since his emergency call-up to Minneosta as Steve Michalek got some rest after two consecutive starts. The Sollentuna, Sweden-native was able to make 26 saves on 28 shots from the Monsters’ shooting gallery en route to the win.
Brad Thiessen (4-1-2; 2.55 GAA/.900 SV%) started on the opposite end for Cleveland, his seventh of the year. The 9th year pro from Aldergrove, B.C., was able to make 24 saves on 26 attempts by the Wild in regulation, but the one shot let in on Sam Anas’ shootout attempt led to his second overtime loss of the year.
In the first ten minutes of the first period, it was clear that Iowa may have been a little hungover from their 6-1 win last night and Cleveland was out on the ice with something to prove. The only shot the Wild were able to manage in the first half of the first was a Ryan Murphy clapper...from the red-line.
Cleveland had the pressure on Svedberg and the Wild early, who couldn’t seem to get through the neutral zone. Kyle Rau was working hard again, trying to disrupt the Monsters in their own end, but a delayed interference call gave Cleveland a man advantage as Thiessen went to the bench.
Defenseman Dean Kukan was able to take a with a shot from the half-wall, and Sam Vigneault was there in front of Svedberg to tip it up and in. They didn’t need the power play, and Cleveland was able to take the early 1-0 lead (Austin, Kukan; 8:26).
Even with the horn and the punch to the mouth, Iowa struggled to wake up, and their first power play opportunity of the game went a bit flat. The first unit was trying to do a bit too much in the neutral zone, rather than focus on zone entries as Cleveland was able to get the only shot while Iowa was on the man advantage.
The first period came to a close with Cleveland leading the shot total, 11-3; and the goals scored total, 1-0.
The second period started with Iowa having a little bit more of a fire underneath them, but it would take awhile for it to get burning.
With both sides not getting any real decent looks at the net, it felt as if the game was hitting a lull. Iowa was unable to get any good looks on their second power play opportunity of the night, as Sam Anas did provide some good puck play to give Iowa their first real shot on the peepers.
After nearly fifteen minutes, it was Cleveland that broke the monotony. Doyle Somerby was able to find former Iowa Wild member, Jordan Schroeder in the slot all alone and he was able to get a great look with Carter Camper battling with Alex Grant; shielding Svedberg’s view. It was 2-0 Monsters as the Wild were struggling to get their offense going (Somerby, Bittner; 14:20).
In a 2-0 hole, Iowa needed to get something going, and once again it was below the net play that helped Iowa climb out.
Thiessen was unable to play a Landon Ferraro dump in, and chaos ensued behind his net. Ferraro tried to bounce one off Thiessen’s back end, but instead threw it into the back of the net. Fortunately, Colton Beck was there to make a play in the trapezoid to get it back to Ferraro who sneakily put it through Thiessen’s five hole to cut the deficit in half (Beck; 17:42).
With the momentum shifting slightly in Iowa’s favor, another strong showing behind the net by the fourth line crew was able to find the equalizer.
Gerald Mayhew took a pass in the corner and was able to tie up Cameron Gaunce long enough for Chase Lang to dig the puck out and get it to Zach Palmquist. The South St. Paul-native let it rip and got some help from Camper’s stick as the puck went past Thiessen for the second time in a little over a minute.
The two teams headed into the dressing room with Iowa getting a much needed bump in momentum.
Tension in the Third
After scoring two to close out the second, it felt as if Iowa was holding all of the cards to start the final frame of the game.
Pushing the puck in deep was something that the Wild have had a lot of success with this year, and that was seemingly the plan to start off the third period. Despite getting the majority of looks and closing the shots on goal gap, the Wild were unable to find the back of the net in the third.
Fortunately, Cleveland was unable to get a goal of their own, and it was “fit to be tied” as both squads concluded regulation knotted up at two goals apiece.
The first few minutes of the extra frame were tension filled. Brennan Menell and Cal O’Reilly committed the first two turnovers in OT, something that usually leads to a horn and a hung head while skating towards the locker room. However, Iowa was able to flip the script, providing the majority of chances as the clock bled to 0:00 in “free hockey.”
With no goals on either end, Iowa headed to their first shootout of the year.
Appropriately, Sam Anas got the call to be the first shooter for Iowa, and he did not disappoint the home crowd. With a couple of wide turns to close in on Thiessen, Sammy went to work with his great stickhandling to drop the Cleveland goaltender to the butterfly. Unable to move over, Anas was able to sneak it in past Thiessen’s toe on the glove side.
On the other side, Svedberg made some key saves and a great team building moment as former Wild member Jordan Schroeder had a smile for Iowa’s bench before taking his shot. With Paul Bittner providing the last chance for Cleveland, the Wild netminder staved off another round with a great blocker save.
Number of the night: 2. It’s hard when you come down from the high of a blowout win, and after a sloppy first period, it took a second punch to Iowa’s psyche for the team to finally wake up. In the closing minutes of the second, the Wild were able to regain momentum and show a lot of fight with a lead like that against them in such a close contest.
It also says a lot about Svedberg’s play as he was able to bounce back and shut Cleveland down in the remaining 25 minutes and change to get earn the win after not practicing all week with the team.
In Coach’s words: “[Being down] is a good lesson for our guys. Sometimes you’ve got to dig deep for energy,” Newsy said of being down 2-0. “The [second] goal gives us energy and then we absolutely dominate the last two minutes.”
When asked about the slow start, he explained, “after the first we talked about energy. We’re still learning, and this felt like last weekend [against San Antonio]...I told them ‘we’re going to create energy with footraces, good puck placement, [being in] good spots with the puck], and then creating rebounds’...when [Cleveland] scored, I thought we’d get [our energy] zapped, but you have to give the guys a lot of credit.”
Lots of guys were flying around, especially Christoph Bertschy and Kyle Rau, two players that weren’t on the score sheet tonight, but made a huge difference in adding pressure on Cleveland puck handlers.
The Wild will be back in action on Wednesday, Nov. 15th for another 10:30 am puck drop against the IceHogs (Chicago Blackhawks), this time in Rockford.