Late Surge Propels Wild Past Stars, 4-2
In front of an announced crowed of 4,034 on Sunday afternoon, a third period Adam Beckman goal proved to be the difference as the Iowa Wild defeated the Texas Stars. Jesper Wallstedt made 27 saves in the victory. Jake Luchhini picked up a goal and an assist. Sammy Walker and Nic Petan both picked up two assists as the Wild picked up a split of the two game set in Des Moines.
Late in the first period, Iowa went on the power play and converted. Lucchini took a goal mouth pass from Walker and was able to squeeze a one timer by Matthew Murray with 21 seconds left in the period. The goal gave the Wild a 1-0 lead after a period. It was also their first non empty net goal since Thursday in the second period when Steven Fogarty scored versus Milwaukee. Shots on goal were 9-8 in favor of the Stars.
Stars’ Riley Damiani took a high sticking penalty early in the second period. As a Star defender attempted to carry the puck out of the zone, Petan forced a turnover near the blue line. Petan fed the puck down low to Walker who dished it across to Fogarty. Fogarty went top shelf to score his third goal of the season 2:29 into the second period. But Texas struck back at the 5:04 mark on a power play of their own, Mavrik Bourque knocked in a puck that just escaped Wallstedt for his fifth tally of the season. Kyle McDonald and Logan Stankoven picking up the helpers on the goal.
Late in the second period, Iowa’s Kyle Masters took a delay of game penalty for airmailing a puck out of his own zone into the stands. On the penalty kill Lucchini and Jujhar Khaira had a two on one that was thwarted by Murray. It proved large as the Stars converted on the power play as a Liam Bichsel shot from the point seemed to be redirected through traffic and into the Wild net. Bourque and Curtis McKenzie assisted on Bichsel’s first goal of the season at the 17:13 mark to knot the game at two after two periods. Texas had the decided edge in shots in the second period outshooting the Wild 13-6.
Halfway through the third, the Wild took back the lead as Beckman who had been snake bit all weekend finally cashed in on a two on one rush off of a great feed from Lucchini. Jujhar Khiara picked up the other assist on the goal at 9:16. Texas had a power play opportunity with 6:49 left in the third when Ryan O’Rourke backhanded a puck in the seats for a delay of game penalty. The Wild were able to kill off the penalty from a Stars power play that had cashed in twice on the man advantage in the second period.
With two and a half minutes to go in the third, Texas pulled Murray for an extra attacker. It took the Wild thirty seconds to clinch the game as Greg Mierles hit the bullseye from his own end for his third goal of the season. Simon Johansson and Khiara assisted on the empty netter. The Wild dominated the shots on goal in the third period by a 16-7 margin.
Three Stars of the Game
I took a trip to Buccaneer Arena before the game on Sunday, home of the USHL’s Des Moines Buccaneers. Buccaneer Arena is sorely showing its age. With the deal to build a new arena attached to Merle Hay Mall now looking like a pipe dream, you have to wonder what the Buccaneers future in Des Moines is looking like. Crowds have been sparse as most of the home games seem to fall on nights the Wild are playing across town. Buccaneer ownership also just bought the Iowa Heartlanders of the ECHL. You have to wonder if the Heartlanders keep faltering in the ECHL, they drop out of the league. In return the Bucs could move to Coralville and not have to pay player salaries, cutting expenses. They would also be playing in a new arena and immediately have nearby USHL rivals in Cedar Rapids, Waterloo and Dubuque. Currently there are no rivals for the Heartlanders within a four hour drive.
On tap for the Wild next weekend will be games in Rockford on Friday night at 7:00 pm followed by a Saturday night tilt with the Chicago Wolves, also a 7:00 pm puck drop.
By Kevin Luckow