DES MOINES, Iowa – They say that you should always finish what you start, and Iowa Wild forward Connor Dewar took that to heart on Saturday. Dewar scored the game’s first and last goals to help lead the Wild to a 5-4 victory over the Grand Rapids Griffins. Joel Rumpel earned the victory in his first start since February 21, stopping 36 of 40 shots.
It looked like the first period was going to end in a scoreless tie, but with just 42 seconds left in the period, Dewar put Iowa on top, 1-0. With time winding down on the Wild power play, Ryan O’Rourke passed the puck back to Dewar at the point. He moved in about 15 feet before firing a shot that sped by Griffins’ goaltender Pat Nagle for his seventh goal of the year.
That was just the third shot of the period for Iowa, who were completely outplayed by Grand Rapids but came away with the lead heading into the break. The Griffins outshot Iowa, 13-3.
A tight-checking first turned into a wild second period as the teams combined for six goals—the first game at 3:16 when Calen Addison extended the Iowa lead to two. The Wild entered the Griffins zone on a 3-on-2 break. Tyler Sheehy had the puck as they crossed into the zone, dishing it to Addison to his right. Addison swept across the slot, firing a wrist shot low to Nagle’s glove side that found the back of the net for his third goal of the year.
A little less than three minutes later, Grand Rapids was on the power-play and would cut the deficit to one. The Griffins used quick puck moment, as Dominic Turgeon quickly fed the puck back to Joe Hicketts. He dished it across to the back door to Patrick Curry, who blasted a one-timer by Rumpel for his second goal of the year.
Just 13 seconds later, Grand Rapids tied the score. The Griffins won the draw at center ice and quickly moved into the Iowa zone. Tyler Spezia came out of the corner with the puck, moving toward the net. He fired a shot that Rumpel saved, but the puck crept through his legs, slowly crossing the goal line to tie the score at two.
Less than a minute later, the Wild did a little responding of their own. Dewar won the draw inside the Griffins end, pulling it back to O’Rourke at the point. He blasted a shot by Nagle to put Iowa back on top by a goal. It was the first goal of the season for O’Rourke.
At the 12:32 mark, the Wild restored their two-goal lead. Gabriel Dumont was credited with the tally, doing it the hard way. With Iowa bursting into the Griffins end, Gerry Mayhew moved down along the boards, looking for the pass near the Grand Rapids goal for a redirect. This pass went up high, hitting off Dumont’s face and into the goal for Dumont’s eighth tally of the season. Mayhew’s assist extended his point streak to five straight games.
The Iowa penalty killing is the worst in the AHL, and they would allow one more tally with a little less than two minutes left in the second period. Grand Rapids entered the Iowa zone on a 3-on-2 break. Turner Elson passed the puck to Curry, who fed it across to Givani Smith just inside the right faceoff circle. He blasted a one-timer over the shoulder of Rumpel for his fourth goal of the year. That made it 4-3 heading into the second intermission.
It remained a one-goal Wild lead through the first half of the third period, but, at 10:03, Spezia scored his second goal of the game, tying the score at four. Troy Loggins fired a shot from just above the left faceoff circle that Rumpel saved, but the puck bounced in the air, dropping right in front of the Wild netminder. Spezia was standing alone in front, knocking the puck past the Iowa goaltender.
For the second time in the contest, the Iowa Wild had given up a two-goal lead, but, as they had in the previous instance, the Wild would retake the lead, this time at the 16:25 mark. Matt Bartkowski passed the puck down low to Damien Giroux near the goal line. He waited for Dewar to set up just above the right faceoff circle, feeding the puck to the Wild forward, who blasted a one-timer by Nagle to put Iowa back on top by a goal.
This time the Wild would hang on, thanks in large part to Rumpel. Grand Rapids fired six shots on goal in the final 2:30 of the contest but could not get the equalizer past the Iowa netminder. Rumpel earned his first victory of the season, moving his record to 1-1-0 with a 4.01 GAA and a .900 save percentage. Dewar finished with two goals and an assist. O’Rourke had a goal and an assist for the Wild.
Spezia led Grand Rapids with two goals. Curry added a goal and an assist. Nagle stopped only 16 of 21 shots. The Griffins were 2-3 on the power play.
The Iowa Wild (5-9-2) travel to take on the Texas Stars (9-5-2) on Tuesday. The puck drops at 7:00.
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