Smith Scores Pair to Lead Heartlanders, 5-2
KALAMAZOO, MI – Jake Smith continues to impress, scoring a pair of power-play goals to help lead the Iowa Heartlanders to a 5-2 victory over the Kalamazoo Wings on Friday evening. Iowa sealed the victory with three third period goals, including one by Cole Stallard, who also added an assist. Dereck Baribeau stopped 29 shots, moving to 3-0-1 in his four appearances with Iowa.
Kalamazoo had two early scoring chances when shots clanked off the post, but it would be Iowa that took the lead 9:26 into the contest. A clearing attempt deflected off Kris Bennett and right to Fedor Gordeev. He lifted a backhander by Trevor Gorsuch for his third goal of the year.
The lead held into the second, but Smith scored less than a minute into the frame to extend the lead to two. That came with Iowa on the power-play as Ryan Kuffer lifted a wrist shot that Gorsuch knocked down, but Smith sped in, gaining control of the rebound before firing it past the Kalamazoo goaltender on the short side for his 14th goal of the season.
The Wings responded almost exactly four minutes later. With Kalamazoo short-handed, Erik Bradford gained control of the puck inside the Heartlanders zone, beat Baribeau with a shot for his 11th goal of the year.
Iowa hung on to the one-goal lead into the second intermission, but blew this game open in the third. For the second time in the contest, Smith scored in the first minute of a frame. The Iowa forward delivered another power-play goal as Kuffner moved the puck to Smith who beat Gorsuch for second goal of the game and third multi-goal game of the season.
Right at the one-minute mark, Ben Sokay extended the lead to three. The Heartlanders kept the pressure on after the Smith tally, as Stallard passed the puck to Sokay, who beat the Kalamazoo netminder to the glove side to make it 4-1. It was the sixth goal of the season for Sokay.
Logan Lambdin scored just after the three-minute mark to cut the deficit to two. Andrew DeBrincat passed the puck to Lambdin at the right faceoff circle, who blasted a one-timer by Baribeau to cut the Iowa lead to two.
However, with just under four minutes left, Stallard sealed the victory, taking a pass from Kaid Oliver and beating Gorsuch for his eighth goal of the year. That made it 5-2, which would be the final.
Kuffner added two assists. That gives him 20 total, second on the Heartlanders.
These two teams will go at it again on Saturday. The puck drops at 6:00 Iowa time.
By Robert Pannier