DES MOINES, Iowa – Twice on Saturday evening the Iowa Wild battled back from one-goal deficits to tie the Chicago Wolves, but the third time proved to be a bridge too far as the Wolves defeated the Wild, 4-3. Paul Cotter scored the game-winner with 10 minutes left in the contest, and Jimmy Schuldt had a goal and an assist for Chicago. Gerald Mayhew extended his point streak to five for the Iowa Wild.
The Wild jumped out in front a little less than 11 minutes into the contest on Kyle Bauman’s second goal of the year. Iowa was relentless with their forecheck, keeping the puck in the Chicago end. Mayhew was able to gain control of the puck behind the Wolves net, then waited for Bauman to move in front of the goal. He fed a perfect pass to Bauman, who fired the one-timer past Wolves goaltender Oscar Dansk to give Iowa a 1-0 lead.
Six minutes later, Chicago tied the score. The Wild turned the puck over in their own end. Gage Quinney passed the puck back to Zach Whitecloud, who fired a blast that sailed past a screened Kaapo Kahkonen to tie the score at one. For Whitecloud, it was his second goal of the season.
The score stayed tied for just 26 seconds, as the Wolves would take their first lead of the game. A great outlet pass by Brandon Pirri sent Quinney into the Wild end on a 2-on-1 break. He waited for Schuldt who was trailing the play, passing the puck back. Schuldt blasted a one-timer by Kahkonen for his fifth goal of the year, putting the Wolves on top, 2-1.
The Wild put a lot of pressure on the Wolves coming out of the first intermission, and that resulted in a goal just 48 seconds into the frame. Matt Bartkowski gained control of the puck along the boards in the Chicago end. He passed it to Mayhew who was at the corner of the net. Mayhew attempted to spin and fire a shot, but the puck was knocked off his stick. Sam Anas swept in, gaining control of the puck before firing a wrist shot in for his eighth goal of the year.
The score remained tied for the next 10 minutes, but Curtis McKenzie gave his team back the lead at 11:12 of the second. With Chicago on the power play, Valentin Zykov fired a pass from the boards toward the front of the net. The puck was knocked down and it looked like Kahkonen had covered it up, but play resumed and McKenzie was able to literally jam the loose puck into the net for his 11th goal of the year. Pirri earned his second assist of the contest on the play.
Trailing by a goal, the Wild put the pressure on, taking eight on the nine shots in the final eight minutes of the second period. That resulted in Iowa tying the score with 1:13 left in the period. Mitch McLain had the puck behind the Wolves net, but was knocked down from behind. Brandon Duhaime picked up the loose puck and moved along the right wing boards. With his back to the net, he used a little spin-o-rama, turning quickly and firing a shot that seemed to surprise Dansk. The goal was Duhaime’s fifth of the year.
The third was a more wide open affair as each team was looking for the go ahead goal. Chicago would gain the advantage when Cotter scored just before the midpoint of the period. Schuldt had the puck at the blueline and made a sensational pass to Cotter, who was at the backdoor of the goal. He simply redirected the puck into the net for his first AHL goal.
The Wild tried to pull Kahkonen with about two minutes left in the game, but the Wolves were able to keep clearing the puck into the neutral zone, not allowing the Iowa goaltender the opportunity to get off the ice for the extra attacker. They were eventually able to pull him with 42 seconds left in the game, but could not get a shot on Dansk, as the Chicago Wolves held on for the 4-3 victory.
Mayhew finished with two assists, extending his point streak to five games (four goals, four assists). Kyle Rau saw his nine-game point streak end.
The Wild will take to their home ice again on Tuesday in a New Year’s Eve contest against the Texas Stars. The puck drops at 2:00pm CST.
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