Wings Soar Early to Down Heartlanders
KALAMAZOO, MI – For the third straight game, the Iowa Heartlanders found themselves trailing early, this time falling to the Kalamazoo Wings, 6-3. After giving up nine goals in the first frame in the two games against the Idaho Steelheads last weekend, Iowa gave up three first period tallies. Evan Cormier made 27 saves and Brandon Saigeon had three points for Kalamazoo. James Sanchez and Kevin Conley each had two points for the Heartlanders.
The Wings scored three goals within the first 18 minutes of the contest. The first came courtesy on a 5-on-3 advantage. The Heartlanders took two quick penalties and Olivier LeBlanc made them pay, ripping a shot from the point that beat Bailey Brkin 1:42 into the contest.
Just before the six-minute mark, the Wings were back on the board. Daniel D’Amico took a shot that Brkin saved, but the rebound came right to LeBlanc. He knocked the puck to Anthony Collins who redirected it past the Heartlanders netminder to make it 2-0.
The lead became three with 2:19 left in the first. Just as an Iowa penalty came to an end, Saigeon took a shot that Brkin saved, but he collected his own rebound, knocking it in for his first goal of the season.
The Heartlanders were in some trouble but gained a little momentum when Sanchez scored his first goal of the season with 29 seconds left in the first. With Iowa on the power-play, Conley passed the puck to Sanchez at the right faceoff circle, who blasted a one-timer by Cormier to make it 3-1.
Kalamazoo restored their three-goal lead at 15:20 of the second as Coale Norris netted his first professional goal. Saigeon carried the puck into the zone, feeding Mason McCarty. He made a quick pass to Norris crashing the net, who tipped the puck past Brkin to make it 4-1.
The Heartlanders had been outshot 29-15 through the first two periods, but finally started to generate some offense in the third, outshooting the Wings, 15-8. That helped them to cut the deficit to two 3:41 into the third, scoring their second power-play goal of the contest. Jake Smith passed the puck to Conley standing in front, who spun and scored his second tally of the year.
The Wings restored their three-goal lead just after the seven-minute mark, scoring their second power-play goal of the game. Erik Bradford passed the puck to Matheson Iacopelli, who netted his third power-play goal of the season to make it 5-2.
Iowa was not done, pulling back within two with 44 seconds left. Yuki Miura beat Cormier for his first goal of the season. However, the Wings sealed the victory with two seconds left when McCarty netted an empty-net tally.
The loss dropped the Heartlanders to 0-3-0. Iowa travels to Ohio to take on the Cincinnati Cyclones (3-0-0) on Saturday. The puck drops at 6:35 Iowa time.
By Robert Pannier