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Bertschy gets his first goal and Iowa gets the OT win, 3-2 over San Antonio

They needed the extra five minutes to get it done, but the Iowa Wild (3-5-2, 8 pts) showed a lot of fortitude as they battled back to get the two points over the Rampage (6-2-1, 13 pts).

Pat Cannone with the celly following his game tying goal late in the third. Iowa went on to win in OT, 3-2.
Iowa Wild/AHL

With the second five game segment coming to an end without a win, there may have been some added pressure on Derek Lalonde and his squad. There were a lot of penalties, physical play, and shots to match. The Wild came away with the overtime win, but they for sure did their best to not make it easy on themselves.

Niklas Svedberg (3-5-1, 2.82 GAA/.902 SV%) started off the night looking dominant behind a Wild club that seemed to be spending a lot of time a man down. The Sollentuna, Sweden native had an answer for all 25 of San Antonio’s shots through the first two periods and ended the night with 38 saves while being peppered by 40 shots in the win.

Spencer Martin (4-1-1, 2.42 GAA/.908 SV%) provided a suitable ying to Svedberg’s yang. The Oakville, Ont., native kept the game tight, saving 29 of 31 shots in regulation to help push the game to overtime. Fortunately for the Wild, he couldn’t close off the five-hole fast enough on number 32, and Iowa skated off with the two points to San Antonio’s one.

First things first

When the Wild came out to start the first, it appeared that all things were going the way of the San Antonio Rampage. They were winning the majority of the draws, stifling two of Iowa’s power play opportunities; limiting them to just one shot in four minutes. With a previous efficiency of 9.6% (5 of 52), “third time’s a charm” seemed a little far off.

Luckily, it happened, but it wasn’t pretty.

After a few neutral zone passes, Ryan Murphy gave a drop pass to Christoph Bertschy who shot into the San Antonio zone with reckless abandon. He got a shot off into the chest of Martin, who gave up a juicy rebound and hit the deck in the process. Zack Mitchell got the next chance, putting his shot off of Rampage d-man, David Warsofsky, who was sprawled out in the crease in Martin’s stead.

Once again, third time was a charm as Alex Grant came in and got the third opportunity, muscling the puck past Warsofsky’s leg for the lead and Iowa’s sixth power play goal of the season (Mitchell, Bertschy; PP - 17:39).

Carson Soucy committed a slash late, and with :33 seconds left on the penalty kill, the first period came to a close. San Antonio had a slight edge in shots on goal, 12-11, but Iowa held the more important lead, 1-0 in goals.

Shaky second

Twenty five seconds into the second period, Brennan Menell joined his defensive partner, and fellow rookie, in the box after air-mailing a puck from the DZ and over the glass on the other side of the arena. However, Iowa was able to kill off both penalties, showing once again why they’re one of the most elite penalty killing units in the AHL.

Though the shots weren’t coming, the hits were. It felt as if after every pass Iowa made, there was a black sweater slamming into them. The Rampage lived up to their name tonight, burying Iowa puck-handlers left and right.

Late in the second, San Antonio center, Dominic Toninato, committed a slash to put Iowa on the power play again. However, a turnover at the blue line after a few too many passes led to San Antonio getting the first two shots of Iowa’s man advantage. Ironically, Iowa was given the gift of a three-on-one advantage to close the period with no passes and one shot.

The period ended with Iowa holding the slight lead, but San Antonio pulled away in the shots on goal category, 25-19.

Trepidation in the third

Nursing a 1-0 lead to start the third, everyone in the building knew that the final twenty were going to be a bit tense.

To their credit, Iowa came out firing instead of sitting back on their lead, getting off the first five shots of the period. With over six minutes played in the first, frustrations set in and the stress escalated.

Following a whiff on a shot, Colton Beck took a hack at Jesse Graham’s legs instead. Cal O’Reilly added insult to injury by joining him in the box for a 5-on-3 power play that felt like an eternity, exacerbated by San Antonio using their timeout to draw something up. Fortunately, this wasn’t where Svedberg or Iowa blinked.

Less than a minute later, with two Rampage forwards screening the Swedish netminder, there wasn’t anything Svedberg could see to blink at. Graham launched one from the blueline and beat Svedberg gloveside that snuck inside the post for the equalizer (Volgelhuber, Butler; 9:13).

A little over a minute after that, Iowa went back to the PK following a delay of game penalty by Ryan Murphy. They weren’t as lucky the next time around as Andrew Agozzino got the power play goal (Warsofsky, Petryk; PP - 10:48). After surrendering two unanswered goals in the third, you’d think Iowa would be hanging their heads.

But resilience is often a quality you can’t teach and Iowa showed plenty of it. Rather than tuck tail and head to the locker room, Lalonde’s guys kept up the pressure. With Martin needing to make a play on the puck with Mitchell closing in, he opted to dump it to nobody. Mitchell picked it up and made a great pass to Cannone in the slot who buried it to knot it all up, 2-2 (Mitchell; 17:08).

The craziness didn’t end there, as Cannone lit the wrong type of lamp and Iowa was forced, more or less, to end the game on the penalty kill. An O’Reilly-Rau two-on-one was snuffed out by Martin, and the third period came to a close with San Antonio dominating the SOG, 41-31.

Overtime ovation

Free hockey didn’t treat the Wild well the last time, and for the first few minutes, the game was up in the air. Fortunately, Justin Kloos was able to show composure, choosing to circle back instead of attack San Antonio alone.

With Bertschy in tow, the Lakeville-native left the Swiss winger with a dump pass and great look from the slot where he was able to bury it for his first goal of the season and cap off the 3-2 win for Iowa, their first in nearly two weeks (Kloos; 2:30).

Closing thoughts

Number of the night: 2. Two rookies. Two defensemen. Two on a pair. Two total penalties. Tonight on Lalonde’s lineup card at the top of the D units were Carson Soucy (LHD) and Brennan Menell (RHD), the latter having been playing a lot of minutes lately. Lalonde expressed afterwards that it is still early on in their development and everyone could agree with the sentiment that it showed. Unfortunately, Menell launched that puck. Fortunately, neither had to endure a skate of shame for their mistakes.

The below the net play of Iowa is still something to hang their cap on. Mitchell was given a gift of a loose puck down low and able to turn it into a pass and a lit lamp with Cannone. The Wild have leaned heavily on their north of the goal line play when at even strength. Chip and chase has come with mixed results, but the boys are getting it done down low.

Iowa and San Antonio are back at it tomorrow night for the second of their back-to-back. It’s the first game of Iowa’s third, five game segment of the season and hopefully it’ll start with a win. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:00 CST.