Heartlanders Comeback Falls Short in OT Loss to Nailers
CORALVILLE, IA – The Iowa Heartlanders mounted an impressive comeback, rallying from a 4-1 deficit to force overtime. However, Bobby Hampton scored with a little less than one minute left in the extra frame to give the Wheeling Nailers a 5-4 victory. Dorian Hanson started for Iowa, but left after giving up three goals on eight shots. Brendan Robbins had two points for the Heartlanders and Cédric Desruisseaux had four points for the Nailers. Iowa is now 4-0-1 in their last five games against Wheeling.
The Nailers took the lead, scoring two goals in the first period despite being outshot 8-4. Desruisseaux put his team on top 3:15 into the contest. Cam Hausinger had the puck behind the net, swinging to the opposite side before passing it out in front to Desruisseaux. His initial shot was saved by Hanson, but he stuffed in the rebound for his 16th goal of the year.
A little over nine minutes later, Hausinger extended the lead to two, scoring his fifth goal of the season. Giancula Esteves carried the puck into the Iowa zone, leaving a drop pass for Desruisseaux. He made a perfect cross slot feed to Hausinger, who moved in on Hanson before lifting a wrist shot to the short side, beating the Heartlanders netminder to make it 2-0.
Iowa pulled within one when James Sanchez scored on the power-play 3:02 into the second period. It was a beautiful tic-tac-toe played by the Heartlanders, as Nolan Orzeck passed the puck from the point to Tanner MacMaster who was just inside the right face-off circle. He made a one touch pass to Sanchez, who buried a one-timer past Wheeling netminder Bailey Brkin for his eighth goal of the year.
Desruisseaux restored the two-goal advantage a little less than two minutes later. Hampton won a battle for the puck behind the net, passing it out in front to Desruisseaux who was crashing toward the goal. He stuffed it in to make it 3-1, ending the night for Hanson.
Five minutes later, Esteves made this a three goal Wheeling advantage. Brooklyn Kalkimov tried to stuff the puck in at the left post, but Corbin Kaczperski made a great save to keep it out. However, the puck bounced in front where Esteves was able to knock in the loose puck for his seventh goal of the year.
At 13:55 mark, Steven Leonard scored his third goal and just his third game with the team to cut the deficit to two. Seconds after the referee waved off what looked like a Heartlanders goal, Carson Denomie fired a shot from the point that Leonard tipped past Brkin to make it 4-2.
The Heartlanders were right back into this contest, but it looked like Wheeling was going to hang on, shutting down Iowa through the first 15 minutes of the third period. The Heartlanders held a 14-6 advantage in shots in the third period, and were finally able to capitalize when Kevin McKernan scored his third goal of the season with 4:19 left in the game.
Michael Pastujov took a shot from just above the left face-off circle that Brkin saved. However, the rebound bounced to the opposite side of the goal where McKernan had a near empty net to wrist the puck in to make it 4-3.
With just under three minutes left in the contest, Robbins netted his sixth goal of the year to tie the score at four. Justin Wells took a shot from the point that missed the net on the short side but took a Heartlanders bounce directly out toward the far post. That is where Robbins scooped it up, stuffing in the loose puck to tie the score.
That sent the game to overtime, and it looked like this game would be headed to a shootout as neither team was able to score through the first six minutes. However, with 56 seconds left in the game, Hampton beat Kaczperski through the five hole to give Wheeling the victory.
Kaczperski played well after taking over for Hanson, stopping 14 of 16 shots.
The Iowa Heartlanders (12-25-11) will continue their seven-game homestand on Wednesday when they welcome the Indy Fuel (31-17-2). The puck drops at 7:05.
by Robert Pannier