For the first time in franchise history, the Iowa Wild have made the Calder Cup Playoffs. Their series with Milwaukee finally got underway Sunday afternoon in Des Moines and got off to a good note, to say the least. 14 different players registered a point in their 7-0 dismantling of the Admirals.
Here’s how their Game 1 victory played out.
As the puck dropped in front of the over 4,500 fans at Wells Fargo, a group of former Minnesota Wild players — Jordan Greenway, Luke Kunin and Ryan Donato — started it off on the offense. Iowa got off to a slow start in the goal column, but with just under eight minutes left in the first period, Cal O’Reilly potted the first ever playoff goal in franchise history. O’Reilly was set up beautifully by Gerald Mayhew in front. That was the lone goal of the period, but it was far from the last of the night.
In the middle frame, O’Reilly, Mayhew and Will Bitten line once again put the Wild on the board. Glorifying the tic-tac-toe was O’Reilly, who found Bitten, who then dished it to Mayhew in front to give the Wild a 2-0 lead just 4:32 into the second. Just about four minutes later, Sam Anas found some room past an Admiral defender and finished off the brief breakaway to give Iowa the 3-0 lead. Not three minutes later, Mike Liambas made a beautiful pass in front to a wide-open Kyle Rau, who buried his first career playoff goal. Just like that, it was 4-0 Iowa just past the midway point of the contest.
The first ten minutes of the third were quiet in terms of goals, as the Wild remained on top 4-0, but Rau eventually found the back of the net again. Rau was be cross-checked multiple times in front by a Milwaukee defensemen, then found the puck in front and gave the stare-down to that D-man right after. Straight savagery by Rau, if you ask me. The old Minnesota Wild players got on the board a minute later, when Kunin received a drop pass from Donato who had received the puck from Greenway to make it 6-0. The Wild completed the touchdown on the power play. Colton Beck went bar down with 1:35 left to finish off Milwaukee for the 7-0 victory.
Andrew Hammond stands tall
The ‘Hamburglar’ came up large for the Wild time and time again Sunday afternoon for the Wild. As one who thought Kaapo Kahkonen would start Game 1, Hammond stopped all 29 shots he faced, earning him a shut out and the First Star of the game. One would think that Head Coach Tim Army would go with the hot hand of Hammond to start Game 2 on Tuesday night in hopes the Wild can go up 2-0 in the series going to Milwaukee.
Power play woes + penalty kill perfection
This game could’ve been a lot worse for Milwaukee if the Wild would’ve capitalized on more than just one of their nine man-advantages in the game. This wasn’t an issue Sunday afternoon because they scored six goals at 5-on-5, but if this does continue to be an area where they struggle, it could cost the Wild down the road. As for the penalty kill, the Wild went a perfect 3-for-3 when the Admirals were on the power play.
With Iowa up 1-0, this was the first of hopefully many playoff wins. Milwaukee has now lost 12 straight playoff games and are 1-16 in their past 17 games. Game 2 is set for Tuesday night back in Des Moines before Game 3 heads to Milwaukee Thursday night. Puck drop for Tuesday is at 7 p.m. CT.