Bjork Leads IceHogs Past Wild, 3-1
DES MOINES, IA – On Pucks and Paws day at Wells Fargo Arena on Sunday afternoon, it was the visiting Rockford Ice Hogs that showed more bite with Anders Bjork and Joey Anderson staking the IceHogs to a 2-0 lead. The Wild clawed their way back into the game with a David Spacek goal but it wasn’t enough as the IceHogs took home a 3-1 win in front of 4,826 fans. Drew Commesso stopped 22 shots to earn the victory.
The IceHogs wasted no time grabbing the lead as a wrister by Bjork off a feed from the point by Andrew Perrott beat Zane McIntyre high to the blocker side. Time of the goal was 16 seconds into the first period. There would be no other scoring in the period. Rockford had the best of the shots on goal (12-5) in spite of the Wild having two power play opportunities.
The second period wasn’t much kinder to the Wild power play. The Wild had the man advantage for the first 1:41 but the only scoring chance was a breakaway by Cole Guttman that McIntyre made a huge save on to keep it a one goal game. Rockford received a power play of their own and cashed in as Anderson buried a feed from Anders Bjork to put the IceHogs up 2-0. Brett Seney also picked up an assist on the goal at 3:43.
At the 4:47 mark, Wild forward Kale Kessy drilled IceHogs forward Jalen Luypen into the boards and proceeded to land punches while Luypen, injured by the hit, curled in self defense. Kessy was given a five minute major and a game misconduct. The WIld were able to kill the penalty. Moments later IceHog Colton Dach and Wild Ryan O’Rourke had a collision near the Wild bench. Both players were injured on the knee to knee hit but returned to the game. O’Rourke received a minor penalty for tripping on the play. Rockford outshot Iowa in what became a feisty second period, 9-7.
Seven minutes into the third period, the Wild were having sustained pressure in the IceHogs end. It culminated in a goal as Spacek shot from the side wall. The puck deflected off a downed IceHogs defender and found the back of the net. Adam Beckman and Sammy Walker picked up assists on Spacek’s first professional goal at 7:46.
The Wild pulled McIntyre with three minutes left looking for the same magic they found the night before when Beckman tied the game with the extra attacker. But with 50 seconds left, an errant pass back to the point escaped the zone and Bryce Kindopp put the game away with an empty net goal.
Three Stars of the Game
Sunday Morning Puck from Sweden
The Minnesota Wild rallied from a 3-1 deficit in the third period but fell to the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-3 in overtime on Sunday morning. With the return of Ryan Hartman and Freddie Gaudreau to the lineup, Vinni Lettieri and Nic Petan were both scratches. Both Petan and Lettieri are likely to be sent back to Iowa depending on if Minnesota is healthy. Goalie Jesper Wallstedt also will be heading back to Des Moines. Fighting jet lag, it remains to be seen if any of the players would be ready to play at Milwaukee on Wednesday, but they will likely be able to play in Hershey next weekend.
Breaking out the Brooms in Coralville
The Iowa Heartlanders completed a three game sweep of Utah on Saturday night, defeating the Grizzlies 3-2. Davis Koch remained red hot scoring two goals, Koch now has seven tallies in 12 games. Drew DeRidder in his Heartlanders debut stopped 37 of 39 shots. With the sweep of the six game homestand, the Heartlanders are currently in second place with a 6-4-2 record. It’s a daunting week ahead as the Heartlanders go to Kalamazoo for a game on Wednesday, followed by a Thanksgiving night matchup at Fort Wayne before games in Wheeling Saturday night and Sunday afternoon.
You can hear Rob Pannier and I talk all things Wild organization weekly on Systematically Wild. You can find the episodes on Minorleaguesportsreport.com or under the Minor League Sports Report umbrella wherever you find your favorite podcasts.
By Kevin Luckow