Last Minute Goals Send Heartlanders to First Loss, 5-3
INDEPENDENCE, MO – The Iowa Heartlanders showed a lot of…well, heart on Saturday, twice rallying to tie the score, but a pair of goals with less than a minute left in the game helped lead the Kansas City Mavericks to a 5-3 victory. Ryan Olsen scored the game-winner, his second goal of the game. Kris Bennett and Billy Constantinou each scored their third goals of the season for the Heartlanders.
The Mavericks took control of this game early, taking a 2-0 lead to the first intermission. The first came at 6:56 as Kansas City used the fastbreak to perfection. The Mavericks won their draw in their own end back to Noah Delmas, who fired the puck up the boards to Darik Angeli near his own blueline. Angeli quickly moved through the neutral zone heading toward the Heartlanders net on a 2-on-1 break. At the last second, he fed the puck across the slot to Lane Scheidl, who beat Iowa goaltender Hunter Jones with a redirect for his second goal of the year.
A little less than nine minutes later, Westin Michaud made this a two-goal game. Michaud led another 2-on-1 break into the Iowa zone but, instead of passing it, he decided to take the shot, beating Jones to the far post to give Kansas City a 2-0 lead.
Iowa had had the better of the play in the first period, outshooting the Mavericks, 13-6, but came away empty-handed, and things were not improving into the first half of the second as Mavericks goaltender Angus Redman was outstanding through the first 30 minutes. However, an additional fighting major assessed to the Mavericks gave Iowa a five-minute power play and they took advantage of it, scoring twice. The first came at 10:46. Bennett had the puck at the blueline, moving it to the right face-off circle to Joe Widmar. Widmar fired a shot toward the goal that Bryce Misley deflected past Redman to cut the deficit to one.
With just a minute left in the power play, Bennett tied the score. Jack Billings moved the puck back to Constantinou at the point. The defenseman moved it quickly over to Bennett just above the left face-off circle. He fired a laser past the glove of Redman tying the score at two.
Suddenly, Iowa had all the momentum, but the Mavericks would quickly turn the tide as Olsen gave his team back the lead a minute after the Bennett goal. Angeli carried the puck into the Iowa zone, dropping it for Ryan Harrison who looked like he was going to take a tough angle shot. However, at the last second, he noticed Olsen streaking down the slot, making a perfect pass to Olsen, who redirected the puck past Jones for his second goal of the season.
Kansas City led by a goal coming out of the second period, and it look like the Olsen tally would hold as the Heartlanders were having very little success generating offense through the first 10 minutes of the final frame. However, with 8:22 left in the contest, Constantinou tied the score with his third goal of the season. Widmar was battling for the puck along the boards and was able to knock it to Tyler Mosienko, who moved it back to Constantinou. Constantinou wound up, blasting a low shot that beat Redman to tie the score at three.
This game looked like it was headed for overtime, but Kansas City retook the lead with 50 seconds left in the contest. Michaud fired a shot that Jones saved, knocking it toward the corner, but Michaud was able to recover his own rebound, quickly turning and firing it into the slot where Olsen redirected it past Jones for his second goal of the season.
The Mavericks sealed the victory when Shawn Weller scored an empty net goal 27 seconds later, securing the 5-3 win.
Despite suffering the loss, both Bennett and Constantinou continue to shine through the first two games. Both players had a goal and an assist. Widmar added two assists for Iowa. Jones stopped 15 of 19 shots.
Olsen led Kansas City with two goals. Redman stopped 22 of 25 shots to earn his first victory of the season.
The Iowa Heartlanders return home for three games starting on Wednesday when they welcome the Wheeling Nailers. The puck drops at 7:00 p.m. The Minor League Sports Report will recap all the action.
By Robert Pannier