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Iowa unleashes a barrage, but Milwaukee ends up with the two points in a 4-2 loss

You can’t fault the Wild (10-8-2, 22 pts) offense tonight in their performance, but soft goals for the Admirals (11-8-0, 22 pts) built on mental errors proved costly tonight

Brennan Menell (27) and Nick Seeler (3) battle to clear Steve Michalek’s (34) crease. Misplayed pucks turned into two goals as Iowa falls at home to close out November.
Ted Sandeen/Iowa Wild

First, something that apparently needs to be said that shouldn’t. I understand that Cody Bass jawboning with Luke Kunin ruffles some feathers. I understand that it was a frustrating loss for the Wild.

But.

Don’t throw things at players going through the tunnel. Absolutely classless move and embarrassing to see as someone who supports this city and it’s team.

In a word, dominant. Iowa looked fantastic at a lot of points during their 4-2 loss to the Milwaukee Admirals (Nashville Predators) tonight. Lalonde in post talked about how the scoring chances were 4 or 5 to 1 tonight, and Iowa put 42 shots on net; their highest total in regulation this season.

It was announced late that Niklas Svedberg had some muscle tightness, so Iowa made a last minute call up with Branden Komm to backup Steve Michalek (4-1-0; 1.99 GAA/.934 SV%) for the evening. Komm didn’t see the ice in his second AHL appearance, but Michalek stopped just 18 of 21 shots from Milwaukee in his first loss of the season.

On the opposite end was Anders Lindback (11-4-1; 2.32 GAA/.925 SV%), who had been responsible for all 10 wins for the Admirals to start the season. In the win, he stopped 40 of 42 shots that that Iowa peppered him with.

Michalek had commented in a previous interview how the games with high shot totals are the ones where he finds the most comfort. It showed, as he gave up one goal in Milwaukee’s first five shots of the game and saw less than two dozen all night.

Fired-Up First

At the onset of the opening frame, Iowa looked like a squad that had a little swagger, having won eight of their last ten games. The defense did a well at limiting Milwaukee opportunities, and the offense got the majority of the scoring chances. Even when Iowa was on the first penalty kill of the night, they got two short-handed shots off while Milwaukee couldn’t find a shooting lane.

With the team doing so well, players get the opportunity to feel more comfortable and get more creative with the puck. Despite owning possession, Iowa made some pretty strange passes in the first; drop passes that had no umph for streaking forwards behind it, bad passes along the blue line, and a centering opportunity off an Iowa stick for Milwaukee.

The Wild dominated the first in terms of shot generation, 15 to the Admirals’ 5, but the period came to a close on a pretty bad turnover by Michalek.

All of the momentum was on the side of the Wild, but Milwaukee was doing their best to get their clearing attempts towards Michalek’s crease. He had a previous misstep with the stick before his second one, which ended up damning.

A puck found itself in the trapezoid, and the Glastonbury, Conn., native went to make a move but whiffed on the puck. Unfortunately, Milwaukee’s Mark Zengerle was there to pick up the loose trash and find a waiting Trevor Mingoia who had nobody to beat but Joel Eriksson Ek (Zengerle; 11:33).

All the numbers but the one that mattered were in favor of Iowa as the first came to a close with Milwaukee up 1-0.

Shaky Second

Whereas Iowa had all of the momentum in the first, starting the second on the power play doesn’t help it much. Michalek also started off the second period pretty much the same way that he ended the first: shaky.

During the PK, he made another bad play on the puck, but fortunately Justin Kloos bailed him out with what you might call a “good” penalty from the slot. Milwaukee did get roughly fifteen seconds of 5-on-3 hockey, but it was another mental miscue that put Iowa down two.

Milwaukee’s Pierre-Cédric Labrie was attempting to wrap the puck around the boards, and before hitting the back stanchion, it looked like it was about to do so. Michalek, assuming what everyone else was, stood up. However, there was a stanchion, and the puck rested near his glove-side post for an easy tap in from Zengerle, his second point of the night (Labrie, Allard; PP - 2:14).

Fortunately, Iowa’s power play decided to add some offense. With a Alexandre Carrier cross-checking penalty winding down, Pat Cannone dropped a puck to Cal O’Reilly who carried it through the neutral zone and past a bevy of Admiral defenders into the offensive zone.

The veteran showed off some dangling ability and was able to wrist one past Lindback to cut Milwaukee’s lead to one (Cannone, Grant; PP - 7:10). The crowd was back in it, but the revelry was short lived.

Less than half a minute later, a Carrier shot from the half-boards looked to go off the body of Anthony Richard, who was screening Michalek (Oligny, Zengerle; 7:38). The goal included the third goal of the night for Milwaukee and Zengerle’s third point.

Via the “eye test,” the second didn’t look nearly as impressive as the first. However, Iowa was still manage to get 15 shots on net in the period, and 30 shots before the start of the third.

Third Period

There was a tepid air about the way the third started, but that quickly dissipated as the physicality started to ramp up. Down two goals to start the final frame, Iowa needed something to break their way.

Anas continues to show why he has one of the best sticks on the team. Able to pick the puck out of a scrum, he got a clean pass to a waiting Brennan Menell at the point. The Woodbury, Minn., native released the clapper that looked to be blocked.

The little puck that could trickled it’s way to Kyle Rau who was battling in front of the net and able to put away his sixth goal of the season (Menell, Anas; 8:54). A much needed goal with half of the third to play.

Iowa wasn’t meant to tie it, however. Following Michalek heading to the bench and after using their timeout, Iowa was unable to keep the puck in the OZ. Menell lost a handle on a puck that turned into an offside, and the final mishandle led to an empty net goal by Bobby Butler (Unassisted; EN - 18:36).

Closing Thoughts

Number of the night: 42. I don’t think I’ve ever seen an Iowa team come out that charged up to start a game before and they were nothing short of dominant with the pucks on their sticks. The offense did well to maintain possession and were able to get away from their usual “behind the net” play. All lines appeared to contribute in some way, and their special teams looked great, even getting short-handed shots on Lindback (who deserves a lot of credit) . Unfortunately, there were some much needed 50/50 battles that were lost, the last resulting in the empty-netter.

In Coach’s words: This was a tough loss tonight, and Newsy commented that this was probably the best he’s seen a team of his play against a top opponent in his two years in Des Moines. Of course, with Michalek bearing the brunt of the criticism tonight, Lalonde, a former goalie himself, kept his assessment light with a tinge of encouragement:

“It’s tough to fault Steve, he’s played at a really high level,” coach said following the loss. “But...I talk about goalie handles all the time, and we work at it constantly, almost nauseating(ly) for the guys...Steve plays so well, I want him to take it to another level. I want him to be a prospect, and a little more complete. Chalk it up to ‘just one of those nights’”.

Iowa will have practice tomorrow before heading off to Texas for a Friday tilt against the San Antonio Rampage (St. Louis/Colorado) - their first of three games in Texas before their next home game on Dec. 9th.