DES MOINES, IA – It may only be three games this season, but the Iowa Wild have seen plenty enough of the Chicago Wolves to this point. After losing two games to the Wolves in Chicago three weeks ago by a combined score of 14 to 3, Chicago dominated Iowa in Des Moines on Saturday, 4-1. Beck Warm stopped all 31 shots he faced, and four players had a goal and an assist for the Wolves. The Wild dropped to 3-6-2 with the loss.
Hunter Jones started for Iowa and had his best outing of the year, matching Warm save for save through the first period as the contest headed to the first break tied at zero. The Wild outshot Chicago, 13-9, but things turned quickly in the second.
The Wolves took the lead 3:11 into the period thanks to Cavan Fitzgerald. With Chicago setting up in the Iowa end, the puck was knocked off the stick of a Wolves player and looked like it was going to creep outside the blueline, but Fitzgerald hustled over and gained control millimeters before the puck crossed the line. He passed it behind the net to Max Lajoie who circled behind the net, curling into the slot before firing a shot that Jones saved. Unfortunately, the rebound deflected to the opposite side of the net where Dominik Bokk blasted it in for his second goal of the season.
Chicago held onto the one-goal lead until 16:28 when they capitalized on a power-play to extend the lead to two. Just 11 seconds after Jarrett Burton had gone off for hooking, the Wolves won the draw in the Wild end. David Warsofsky passed the puck to Tommy Novak near the right face-off circle. He fired a shot on net that Tanner Jeannot redirected past Jones for his fourth goal of the year.
Chicago dominated the second period on more than just a scoreboard. The Wolves held a 19-14 advantage in shots and would continue the pressure into the third, leading to two more goals.
The first came at 5:33 when the Wolves scored their second power play goal of the game. As they had done before, Chicago wasted little time capitalizing on the man-advantage. Just seven seconds after Mitch McLain went off for hooking, the Wolves won the draw in the Iowa zone. The puck was fed to Bokk near the right face-off circle. He dished a pass across the slot to Novak who moved in just inside the left face-off circle before firing a wrist shot that buzzed by Jones for his third goal of the year.
Iowa had an opportunity to get back into this game, earning a 5-on-3 advantage with about 11 minutes to go in the game, but could not capitalize. That proved to be costly as Rempal scored his first goal of the season at the 10:33 mark to put Chicago up by four. It was a great individual effort on the part of Rempel, who carried the puck along the boards down through the neutral zone and into the Iowa end. The forward was able to slide his way by the Iowa defender, moving in on net. It looked like he would be going to his backhand looking to tuck the puck into the far corner, but he quickly came back to his forehand to slide the puck past Jones to make a 4-0. That would be the final.
Iowa had just four shots in the final frame, as Chicago outshot the Wild 38-31 in the contest. Jones stopped 34-of-38 shots but remains winless at 0-4-1.
Warm was brilliant all evening for Chicago, stopping all 31 shots he faced. The Wolves goaltender moved to 5-1-1, lowering his goals-against average to 2.02. The shutout was his first in the AHL. Rempal, Novak, Bokk, and Jeannot each had a goal and an assist for Chicago.
These two teams will go at it again on Sunday afternoon. The puck drops at 3 p.m.
Robert Pannier covers the Iowa Wild for The Sin Bin. Follow or interact with him at @SinBinWild