The Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines, Iowa, has been a tough building for the IceHogs to find success. Beating the Wild goaltender has been even tougher. In a similar contest to last week’s 3-0 defeat in Iowa, the IceHogs fell, 3-1, to the Wild on Thursday night.
The first 20 minutes had a steady end-to-end flow with few whistles cutting the air besides a single penalty on each team. The home team quickly capitalized on its man advantage at the 4:04 mark. Iowa center Tyler Graovac knocked a rebound out of the air past IceHogs goalie Lars Johansson for the only tally of the opening period. The goal was Graovac’s 100th point as a member of the Iowa Wild, the first scorer in team history to reach 100 points.
Leading 1-0, the Wild had the experience of netminder Alex Stalock (21-16-7) between the pipes, a veteran of 64 games at the NHL level. The second stanza progressed much like the first with possession battles dictating play and both teams carefully concentrating on avoiding the odd-man rush. The 1-0 score carried over to the final period.
At 5:31 into the third, Jeremy Langlois finally beat Stalock on a wrist shot to tie the score at 1-1. Rockford head coach Ted Dent stated on a recent media day interview how the young players were giving the entire team some energy, but there would be no standout rookie performance for the IceHogs on this night.
Despite the Hogs dominating the play and the shot totals in the third, at 11:17 the Wild forged ahead 2-1 on a 5-on-5 goal by Christoph Bertschy. Colton Beck added another even-strength score at 16:24 to open up a late 3-1 Iowa advantage. Rockford pulled Johansson down the stretch but could not connect, resulting in the 3-1 victory for the Wild. Shots on goal favored the home team, 31-28.
Gas up the team bus as two more Rockford road games cap off the weekend with a Saturday night trip to Milwaukee to face the Admirals at 6 p.m. along with a Sunday afternoon battle in Chicago with the Wolves, puck drop at 4 p.m. After that, just three other games the following week remain on the Rockford season schedule, including a home and away test against Milwaukee and the BMO Harris Bank Center finale hosting Iowa on April 15.