Jones Records First Professional Shutout in Wild Victory, 4-0
CEDAR PARK, TX – It now appears that all Iowa Wild goaltender Hunter Jones needed was a couple of games off. After being given back-to-back games off on March 27 and 30th, Jones returned to the net on Wednesday, holding Texas to just one goal. Friday night, he put together his best performance of the season, stopping all 37 shots he faced to record his first professional shutout in a 4-0 victory over the Texas Stars. Four different players scored for the Wild, including Connor Dewar, who added his eighth goal of the season, second on the team.
The first period ended in a scoreless tie thanks to an outstanding performance by Jones. Texas peppered the young netminder with 18 shots while his team mustered just three against Colton Point. This was a repeat of Wednesday night’s game, when Texas outshot Iowa 19-2 in the first frame.
As he had on Wednesday night, Jones continued to make one amazing save after another. The first big chance came 2 26 into the contest with the Stars on the power-play. Anthony Louis fired a shot that Jones saved, but the rebound deflected to the other face-off circle where Julius Honka blasted a one-timer that looked destined to find the right side of the net. However, Jones quickly reacted, sliding into position to make a fine glove save.
At 15:10, the Stars had another great opportunity. Nick Porco stole the puck along the right-side boards inside the Wild end. He quickly moved across the crease, getting Jones to move to his right before firing a wrist shot. Once again, Jones flashed the leather, making a great glove save.
Iowa had taken the best that Texas had to offer in the first, pushing back in the second that helped lead to two goals to help Iowa take the lead. The first came at 1:22. The Stars defenseman was attempting to move up the slot out of his own end, but Gabriel Dumont was able to knock the puck off his stick to Mason Shaw who was standing alone just outside the crease. Shaw fired a shot that Point looked like he had saved, but the puck slithered through his pads and across the goal line to give Iowa a 1-0 lead.
Less than three minutes later the Wild were back on the scoreboard. The play began when Mitch McLain came out of the penalty box and took an outlet pass right outside the Texas blueline. He moved in on a breakaway, getting Point to shift to his left before sliding across the crease to try to get the wrist shot just inside the far post. However, Point recovered, making a great move to slide back in position and somehow get his pad on the shot, covering it up to stop play.
That set up a face-off deep inside the Stars zone and Iowa scored moments later. The Wild won the draw and were able to maintain possession inside the Texas end. Damien Giroux dished the puck back to
Calen Addison at the point, who slid across the blueline before firing a shot that found the far post for his fifth goal of the year.
Dewar had earned an assist on the goal, but he would light the lamp himself 5:26 into the third. Texas was trying to clear the puck out of their end, but Louie Belpedio was able to stop the clearing attempt, knocking it forward where Dewar gained possession. He quickly moved in from the boards, cruising in toward the slot where he fired a wrist shot that Point had no chance on to extend the lead to three.
Just 35 seconds later, Iowa was back on the scoreboard. Another great job of forechecking helped set up the goal. Texas was trying to clear the puck along the right-side boards, but Bryce Misley was able to stop the attempt. Jarrett Burton gained control of the loose puck, moving into the slot before firing a wrist shot that beat Point to the blocker side. That would be it for Point, who left after giving up four goals on just 20 shots.
Meanwhile, Jones continued to sparkle for Iowa. After stopping 18 shots in the first period, he stopped 19 more over the next two periods to finish with 37 saves to record his first professional shutout. It was an outstanding performance considering that Texas had eight power-play opportunities but came away empty-handed on each one of them.
The victory moves Iowa to 7-9-3. They are now within five points of Texas in the Central Division standings. The Wild will get an opportunity to cut into that lead when these two teams square off again on Saturday. The puck drops at 7:00 p.m.
By Robert Pannier