Five-Goal First Period Too Much for Heartlanders to Overcome
CORALVILLE, IA – Colton Kehler and Jordan Kawaguchi each scored two goals and the Idaho Steelhead scored five first period goals as they defeated the Iowa Heartlanders, 6-4. Idaho took a 5-1 lead out of the first period, only to see the Heartlanders battle back to pull within a goal. However, the comeback fell just short. Jake Smith scored two goals for the Heartlanders and Matthew Boucher had a goal and an assist.
Idaho took the lead 2:09 into the contest. Kawaguchi intercepted a pass along the boards, then found A.J. White alone in the slot. He lifted a wrist shot that beat C.J. Motte low to the blocker side to make it 1-0. It was the second goal of the season for white.
A little over four minutes later, the Steelheads were back on the board. This time it was White sending a perfect pass out of his end into the neutral zone where he caught Kawaguchi along the left wing. Kawaguchi moved in, firing a wrist shot that beat Motte through the legs.
The Heartlanders cut the deficit in half at 11:26. The Idaho defenseman lost the puck at the blueline, giving Zach White a breakaway opportunity. He made a great mode before sliding the puck past Remi Poirier to make it 2-1.
The Heartlanders were back into the contest, but the Steelheads restored their two-goal lead just 24 seconds after the White tally. Ryan Dmowski knocked the puck out of the Idaho zone up the boards and into the neutral zone where Ty Pelton-Byce gained control. He moved into the Iowa zone before being knocked into the boards, but Dmowski regained control of the puck. He then made a great pass to Kehler, who redirected the puck past Motte for his second goal of the season.
Just after the 14-minute mark, the Steelheads were back on the board. Pelton-Byce was battling for a loose puck behind the net, winning the battle before dishing it out in front to Patrick Kudla. He quickly moved in, taking the feed and drilling it past the Heartlanders netminder to make it 4-1.
The onslaught was not over, however. At the 16:38 mark, Pelton-Byce sent a pass to Kehler at the far side of the post. He redirected the puck over Motte to make it 5-1. That would be it for the Iowa netminder, who left after allowing four goals on just eight shots.
Iowa was outshot in the first frame, 9-5, and Idaho continue to put the pressure on in the second, outshooting the Heartlanders 12-9. However, it would be the home team that came away with the only goal of the second period, as Smith netted his first goal of the contest. Brendan Robbins gained control near the corner, passing it out in front to Smith in the high slot who lifted a wrist shot past Poirier to make a 5-2.
The Heartlanders cut the deficit to two 1:19 into the third. James Sanchez fired a shot that Poirier saved, but Boucher was able to retrieve the rebound, putting it past the Steelheads netminder for his second goal of the year.
Iowa continued to battle, using their forecheck to create opportunities but Poirier was able to maintain the two-goal lead. That was until 18:43 when Smith netted his second tally of the contest. Boucher won the draw inside the Idaho zone back to Smith, who fired a quick wrist shot in for his second goal of the game, making this a one goal contest.
Idaho clamped down from there, denying the Heartlanders any further shots in the contest. Kawaguchi sealed the victory with an empty net tally with 53 seconds left to finish off the 6-4 victory.
Hunter Jones played well in relief, stopping all 18 shots he faced. Poirier made 19 saves to earn the victory.
The Iowa Heartlanders (0-2-0) have a busy weekend ahead of them. The club travels to Michigan on Friday to take on the Kalamazoo Wings. Game time is scheduled for 6:00 Iowa time. They then head for Ohio, taking on Cincinnati on Saturday before traveling to Wheeling for a Sunday afternoon affair.
by Robert Pannier