Grimaldi Delivers OT Game-Winner to Give IceHogs Game 1 Win
ROCKFORD, IL – The Iowa Wild returned to the post-season for the first time in four years, but it was not a positive return, as Rocco Grimaldi scored 3:59 into overtime to give the Rockford IceHogs a 3-2 victory. Mitchell Balmas and Steven Fogarty scored goals for Iowa and Jesper Wallstedt stopped 28 shots. Arvid Soderblom was outstanding, stopping 29 shots and Brett Seney and David Gust each had a goal and an assist for the IceHogs.
Iowa got this game started on the right foot as Balmas scored 3:26 into the contest. Tanner Kaspick passed the puck along the boards through the neutral zone and onto the stick of Dakota Mermis. Mermis took a shot that hit off the post, coming out in front where Balmas knocked it in for his first goal of the playoffs.
The Wild were on top, but not for long as Gust scored 18 seconds later to tie the score. Seney sent the puck across the slot to Gust, who blew a one-time or by Wallstedt.
With 2:05 left in the first, Seney put his team on top. Isaak Phillips took a shot that Wallstedt made a nice save on, but no one cleared out Seney. He pushed the rebound in to make it 2-1.
Rockford held the one goal advantage through the first intermission and into the second, as they outshot the Wild in the first period, 13-8. However, Iowa tied the score 4:14 into the second, as Fogarty scored on the power-play to knot this game at two. A scrum for the puck was occurring along the boards, but Nic Petan was able to gain control, moving it to Fogarty. He came off the boards, moving toward the slot before lifting a wrist shot that beat Soderblom.
Iowa put the pressure on of the third period, but could not get one past Soderblom. The IceHogs netminder made 14 saves in the third while Wallstedt made eight.
With the score still tied at two at the end of regulation, the game went to overtime. That is where Grimaldi used the forecheck to steal the park inside the Iowa zone. He then lifted a wrist shot past the blocker of Wallstedt to give the IceHogs a 3-2 victory.
The loss puts the Wild at 0-1 in this best of three series as the teams head back to Des Moines fourth Game 2 on Friday evening. The puck drops at 7:00.
by Robert Pannier