DES MOINES, Iowa – Sam Anas scored a goal and added two assists as the Iowa Wild rolled over the Grand Rapids Griffins, 4-1. It was the first game for the Wild since the AHL All-Star Classic, but the team showed no rust from the six-day layoff, scoring two first period goals. Gerald Mayhew scored his 31st goal of the season, tops in the league.
The game was scoreless through the first nine minutes, but J.T. Brown ended that with his seventh goal of the year at the 9:17 mark. Joe Hicketts was trying to clear the puck out of his own end, but Brown intercepted the clearing feed just inside the Griffins blue line. He moved in about 10 feet before firing a wrist shot that beat Pat Nagle up high to give the Wild a 1-0 lead.
With a little more than three minutes left in the first, the Wild made this a 2-0 game. With Iowa on a power play, the team used a play that has become pure gold for them. Anas had the puck along the right-side boards. He passed it to Kyle Rau along the goal line right next to the net, who made a one-touch pass to Mayhew. The forward blasted the one-timer by Nagle for his AHL leading 12th power play goal of the year. The goal extended Mayhew’s consecutive point streak to six games.
The Wild dominated the first period, allowing the Griffins just four shots on net. However, Grand Rapids picked up the pace in the second, outshooting Iowa 16-13, helping them cut the deficit in half.
Just before the eight-minute mark, it was 4-on-4 hockey as both teams had a man off for coincidental cross-checking penalties. From the draw just outside of the Iowa end, Taro Hirose gained control, sped into the Wild zone, and swooped behind the net attempting the wraparound shot on Kaapo Kahkonen. The Iowa goaltender quickly slid over to make the save, but the rebound went to the other side of the net, where Dominic Turgeon was positioned. He simply tucked the puck into the goal for his 10th tally of the season.
The Iowa Wild held the one-goal lead into the second intermission and through the first 12 minutes of the third period. The Griffins had a couple of great chances to tie the score, but Kahkonen kept his team on top.
At the 12:14 mark, the offense rewarded their netminder when Keaton Thompson scored his second goal of the season. Anas’ forecheck led to a bad clearing pass that Brennan Menell intercepted. He fed the puck across the slot to Anas, who moved in on Nagle before dropping it back to Thompson (who was just entering the Griffins zone). The defenseman wound up and blasted a one-timer that sailed by the Grand Rapids goalie to make it a 3-1 game. That was the second helper of the game for Anas, who now leads the AHL with 34 assists.
With about three minutes left in the game, Grand Rapids pulled Nagle. The Wild defense were able hold the Griffins to just two shots in the closing minutes of the contest. However, Anas sealed the victory with an empty-net tally with a little less than a minute left in the game. His 15th goal of the season gave the forward a three-point night, moving him ahead of Mayhew for second in the AHL in points with 49.
Kahkonen finished with 27 saves, moving to 17-5-5 on the season. He equaled his single-season high for victories set last season.
Iowa won their ninth game in January, the first time in franchise history they have won that many games in a single month. The victory also gave the Wild their first home sweep of the Griffins in franchise history. Iowa welcomes the San Antonio Rampage on Wednesday night. The puck drops at 7:00 CST.
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