First Period Surge Sends Wild to Victory over Wolves
DES MOINES, IA – Entering Friday night’s contest, the Iowa Wild had been dominated by the Chicago Wolves this season, losing all four games by a combined score of 24-5. Chicago had dominated Iowa in every facet of the game in those contests, but Friday night was a different story. Three first period goals put the Wild on top and Dereck Baribeau made it stand in his return to Iowa as the Wild defeated the Wolves, 4-1.
Iowa got off to a fast start, scoring just 54 seconds in the contest. Chicago was trying to clear the puck out of their zone along the boards, but Damien Giroux was able to intercept the attempt, pushing it back along the boards where Mitchell Chaffee gained control. Chaffee fired a centering pass across the slot that deflected off the opposite side boards and right to Keaton Thompson who blasted a one-timer by Wolves goaltender Connor Ingram for his second goal of the season.
A little less than eight minutes later the Wild were back on the scoreboard thanks to the first of two power-play goals scored in the period. Louie Belpedio and Connor Dewar were moving the puck back and forth between the blueline and the side boards. Belpedio moved toward the middle of the blueline, dishing it back to Dewar who had moved just above the left face-off circle. He fired a wrist shot that deflected off a Chicago player and past Ingram to put Iowa on top 2-0. The Wild had been 0-20 against Chicago on the power-play until that tally.
Almost exactly 10 minutes later the Wild had their second power-play goal of the frame. Giroux fed the puck to Gerry Mayhew just above the left face-off circle. He turned and moved toward the boards before circling back toward the slot, then fired a perfect pass to the back door to Matt Boldy, who blasted a one-timer by the Wolves goaltender for his first goal in his first game since joining Iowa. That gave the Wild a 3-0 lead heading into the first break.
In the second, the Wild dominated play, outshooting Chicago 13-5, but it would be the Wolves who would get on the board first, scoring at 6:48. Phil Tomasino had the puck along the end boards inside the Iowa zone. He passed it out front looking for a connection, but the puck was deflected up into the air where David Cotton batted it into the goal to cut the deficit two.
The Wolves had been outplayed but were just two goals down. However, with 22 seconds left in the period, Cale Addison restored the three-goal lead. Boldy brought the puck through the neutral zone and into the Wolves zone, stopping about 10 feet after he crossed the blueline. Boldy then made a picturesque pass across the slot to Addison who gained control of the puck before firing a wrist shot that beat Ingram over the blocker side for his sixth goal of the year.
From that point, it was all Baribeau. The Iowa goaltender had been with the Minnesota Wild since the end of February, but returned to earn his fourth victory of the season for Iowa, stopping 24 of 25 shots. That lowered his goals-against average to 2.14.
Boldy had a big debut for the Wild, scoring a goal and adding an assist. Giroux and Chaffee each had two assists for Iowa. The Wild killed off seven power-play opportunities for Chicago on the night, giving them 28 straight penalty kills, a franchise record.
The victory was the fourth in a row for the Wild who are now 9-9-3. Iowa is 5-0-1 over their last six games and suddenly find themselves just a small number of percentage points behind the Texas Stars for fourth place in the Central Division.
These same teams will go at it again on Saturday night at the Wells Fargo Arena. The puck drops at 6:00.
By Robert Pannier