Busch Hat Trick Propels Heartlanders in Morning Affair
CORRALVILLE, IA – Before nearly 2000 enthusiastic schoolchildren, the Iowa Heartlanders came away with a 5-1 victory over the Kalamazoo Wings on Wednesday morning. Tyler Busch led the way, notching his first ECHL hat trick and Hunter Jones was spectacular in net, stopping 26 shots. The victory snapped a five-game (0-1-4) winless streak for the club.
The game was scoreless through the first 17 minutes, but Busch gave his team the lead at the 17:25 mark. Nolan Orzeck gained control of the puck, moving from the right face-off circle behind the net to the opposite side before dishing it in front to Busch. He redirected the puck toward the opposite post, beating Kalamazoo netminder Evan Cormier for his second goal of the year.
Iowa had dominated the first frame, outshooting the Wings 10-4. Kalamazoo was able to gain some momentum in the second period, but it would be the Heartlanders extending their lead, scoring two goals within the first 14 minutes of the period to take a 3-0 lead.
T.J. Fergus netted the first tally of the frame, scoring on the power-play at 5:09. James Sanchez slung the puck across the blueline to Fergus, who moved back toward the center before lifting a wrist shot that found its way over the shoulder of Cormier for his second goal of the year.
With 6:35 left in the period, Logan Nelson extended the lead to three. Nelson carried the puck into the Kalamazoo zone before leaving a drop pass for Brendan Robbins. Robinson made a nice spin move, directing a backhand pass into the slot to Carson Denomie, who partially fanned on the shot, but got enough to direct it toward the net. Cormier made the saved, but Nelson had continued to follow the play, moving behind the net before coming to the far post. He gained control of the rebound, knocking it over the top of the Wings netminder for his first goal in Heartlanders uniform.
What 2:24 left in the period, Kalamazoo got on the board when Mason McCarty netted his 11th goal of the year. Brandon Saigeon passed the puck through the slot to Marc Gatcomb at the left face-off. He blasted a one-timer that Jones saved, but McCarty was able to battle through the Heartlanders defenseman, pushing the rebound past the Iowa netminder to make it 3-1.
The third period was all about Busch, who completed his hat trick with two tallies in the frame. The first came with Iowa on the power-play at 9:34. Tommy Parrottino passed the puck to Fergus at the top of the slot, who blasted a slap shot that Busch redirected through the five hole of Cormier to make it 4-1.
Kalamazoo pulled their netminder with over four minutes left in the game trying to get back into the contest, but Bush sealed the victory with an empty net tally. That made it 5-1, which would be the final.
Fergus finished with a goal and two assists for the Heartlanders and Parrottino had two assists. Jones earned his first victory of the season, moving to 1-3-5 while lowering his goals-against average to 3.36.
The Heartlanders (5-9-7) continue their series against Kalamazoo (10-10-1) on Friday. The puck drops at 7:05.
by Robert Pannier