DES MOINES, IA – The walk-off hit has become part of the lingo in baseball. A guy delivers a home run in the bottom of the ninth or rips a single with the bases loaded to drive in the winning run, and voila – the walk-off hit. The term has not crept its way into the hockey world yet, but Adam Beckman may be changing that, delivering the walk-off tally…or, should we say, skate-off tally in overtime to give the Iowa Wild a 3-2 victory over the Rockford IceHogs on Saturday.
This game looked like it would be a blowout, as the IceHogs took a 2-0 lead in the first period thanks to a pair of goals by Brad Morrison. The first came at 3:29. Morrison was able to intercept a pass just inside his own blueline, then headed up the right boards, flipping the puck over a Wild defender and into the Iowa end. Chad Yetman raced for the loose puck with Morrison heading toward the net. Yetman retrieved the puck near the goal line, then fired a pass out front that Morrison tipped up high over the shoulder of Wild netminder Derreck Baribeau for his first goal of the year.
About 10 minutes later, the Notre Dame graduate made it 2-0. Yetman dished the puck up ice to Mitchell Fossier, who carried it into the Iowa end. He fired a shot that hit off a Wild defender and right to Morrison, who tipped it past Baribeau.
The Wild were back on their heels, but they came out in the second period and dominated play, outshooting Rockford 18-8. That helped the team to produce two goals to tie the score.
The first came at 5:58. Fedor Gordeev picked up the loose puck in the neutral zone, dishing it ahead to Will Bitten, who was playing in his first game since returning from Minnesota. He moved in on Rockford goaltender Matt Tomkins, getting the defenseman to go down to try to block any pass attempt. It did not work. Bitten made a perfect pass across the slot to Gabriel Dumont, who blasted the one-timer past Tomkins for his team-leading fourth goal of the year.
A little less than four minutes later, the Wild tied the score. The IceHogs were looking to clear the puck out of their end, but Beckman intercepted the clearing attempt in the slot, firing a shot on Tomkins that the goaltender knocked down. However, the rebound was loose in the slot, and Damien Giroux swept in, muscling the backhander through Tomkins’s legs for his first professional goal.
The third period was like watching molasses crawl across the ice, as the two teams mustered just 10 total shots on net, with the IceHogs holding the edge, 8-2. Neither team was taking risks, which led to no goals, forcing overtime.
The Wild had no offensive rhythm in the third period, but they dominated the extra sessions, outshooting Rockford 6-2. The Wild had an opportunity to win it just after the three-minute mark when Bitten was hauled down on a breakaway. That drew a penalty shot, but Tomkins was able to deny the opportunity, stopping Bitten’s attempt to go between the legs of the goaltender.
The Wild were not done, however. With the faceoff in the IceHogs end, Iowa gained control. Josh Atkinson gave the puck to Beckman just above the right faceoff circle. He swept across the slot, then fired a low wrist shot that beat the Rockford netminder to the glove side for the skate-off goal. It was the second goal of the season for Beckman.
Beckman finished with a goal and an assist for the Wild. Baribeau moved to 2-0-1, stopping 28 of 30 shots.
The Wild (2-1-1) head to Chicago to take on the Wolves (4-0-0) on Saturday night in the first of two games. The puck drops at 7:00.