Stallard Hat Trick Sends Heartanders Past Komets
CORALVILLE, IA – The losing streak is finally over. The Iowa Heartlanders scored two goals in the first and added four more in the second on their way to a 7-2 victory over the Fort Wayne Komets on Sunday. Cole Stallard led the way, scoring a hat trick as Iowa won their first game of the year. Corbin Kaczperski was brilliant in his return to the team, stopping 22 of 24 shots to earn the victory.
Things got off on the wrong foot as Fort Wayne took the lead 1:54 into the contest. Jordan Martel created the scoring chance, feeding Clark Hiebert, who scored his first goal of the season to put the Komets on top by a goal.
The lead held for a little over four minutes before Stallard scored back-to-back goals to put the Heartlanders on top. The first came at 6:13 as Iowa was buzzing around the Fort Wayne zone, denying the Komets the opportunity to get the puck out of there end. A clearing attempt was knocked down by Tyler Busch at the blueline, who turned and fired a shot on goal that Stallard tippd past Komets netminder Ryan Fanti for his first goal of the year.
Just before the 11-minute mark, the Heartlanders were back on the board. Matt Murphy carried the puck along the blueline, passing it to Busch who was just outside of the right face-off circle. He made a perfect cross ice feed to Stallard above the left face-off circle, who corralled the puck on his stick before lifting a wrist shot between the legs of Fanti to give his team the lead.
Iowa outshot Fort Wayne in the first frame, 14-10, and continued the pressure into the second, absolutely dominating the period. The Heartlanders outshot the Komets 22-4, adding four more goals in the frame.
The first came at 7:11 when there was a mad scramble for the puck in front of the Fort Wayne net. Nick Campoli eventually gained control before shoveling it past the sprawling Fort Wayne netminder for his first goal of the year.
The Komets cut the deficit to one just before the 11-minute mark when Drake Rymsha netted his fifth goal of the season. However, a power-play goal by Michael Pastujov restored the two-goal advantage with just under seven minutes left in the period. Kaczperski got the play started, making a save before passing it to Nolan Orzeck. Orzeck sped through the neutral zone and into the Fort Wayne end, turning in just past the left face-off circle. As he approached the net, he took a shot that Fanti saved, but Pastujov put the rebound in for his first goal of the year.
It was a night for firsts for the Heartlanders, as Alec Broetzman scored his first tally of the year 41 seconds later. Matthew Boucher carried the puck in on a 2-on-1. He fired a shot that Fanti saved, but no one boxed out Broetzman, who put a backhander in to make it 5-2.
With three minutes left in the frame, Stallard completed his hat trick. Once again, a 2-on-1 created the scoring opportunity. Stallard carried the puck into the zone, passing it through the legs of the Fort Wayne defenseman to Busch, who fed it right back to Stallard. The Iowa forward swept across the net before putting a shot past Fanti for his first ECHL hat trick.
In the third, the Heartlanders added one more power-play goal to close out the scoring. With the draw inside the Fort Wayne zone, James Sanchez won the puck to Murphy, who quickly fed it across the slot to Boucher at the back door. Boucher redirected the puck in for his third goal of the season, making it 7-2.
The seven goals were a season-high for Iowa (1-6-0). Busch added three assists and Murphy and Orzeck each had a pair of helpers. Boucher had a goal and an assist.
The Iowa Heartlanders are off until Friday when they take on the Kansas City Mavericks (3-2-1) in Independence. The puck drops at 7:05.
by Robert Pannier