Here’s a look at the last week for the Minnesota Wild’s AHL affiliate, the Iowa Wild.
The Iowa Wild signed 2013 third-round draft pick (81st overall) Kurtis Gabriel and Brady Brassart to amateur try-outs (ATOs).
Gabriel, 20, had 51 points through 60 games with the Owen Sound Attack of the OHL. The 6-foot-4 and 218-pounds forward has 34 goals, 66 assists, and 291 PIM through 232 career OHL games.
Brassart, also 20, has raked in 35 goals and 50 assists in 70 games this season with the Calgary Hitmen of the WHL. He also has 11 goals on the power play, six game-winners, a plus-11 rating, and 94 PIM.
At the same time, the team announced that they were releasing Jim McKenzie from his professional tryout (PTO). He played 26 games for Iowa this season, totaling three goals and five assists. He’s played a career total of 93 AHL games, accumulating seven goals and ten assists. McKenzie was returned to the Quad City Mallards of the CHL. His release may have something to do with the Mallards entering the CHL playoffs and the Iowa Wild being out of the AHL playoff race.
The Iowa Wild were in Grand Rapids on Wednesday to take on the defending Calder Cup Champion Griffins, with 2013 second-round pick Gustav Olofsson and Brady Brassart making their pro debuts.
The game started with a little excitement as Olofsson opened the scoring with a power play marker, his first pro goal, just 11:25 into the first period.
After that it was all Griffins as they bounded their way to a 6-1 win, even though shots were 35-34 in favor of the Wild. Griffins forward Corey Emmerton had a goal and two assists and Trevor Parkes scored twice. The Griffins had Petr Mrazek in net, who has seen time in eight games for the Detroit Red Wings this season.
Johan Gustafsson got the start for Iowa, stopping 28 of 34 shots.
- In the second a player from the Griffins took a shot that would make him a minor, momentary internet sensation in the hockey world. It entered the world with this tweet:
Everyone is momentarily on hold in Grand Rapids as blood and some Griffins' teeth are cleaned off the ice. Is #hockey a tough sport or what?
— Iowa Wild (@IAWild) April 2, 2014
And finished here. (Linking and not embedding to protect the innocent. This is a pretty gruesome picture. You’ve been warned.)
- Earlier in the day, the Minnesota Wild recalled veteran forward Jake Dowell, who played in Thursday’s game against Chicago but was a scratch against Pittsburgh on Saturday, and goaltender John Curry.
Curry comes up as Darcy Kuemper remains out with an upper body injury and Josh Harding, while he has returned to practice, isn’t ready for game action yet.
Curry is a 30-year old veteran of four NHL games, all with the Pittsburgh Penguins. He’s 7-9-2 with a 2.62 GAA and a .920 save percentage this season in Iowa. He’s only backed up this season, but with Ilya Bryzgalov starting the first of a back-to-back Monday, stands a chance of suiting up against Boston on Tuesday should coach Mike Yeo not want Bryzgalov taking back-to-back games for whatever reason.
Dowell has six goals and 11 assists with Iowa this season and hadn’t been called up to St. Paul yet this year, though he played two games in the NHL last year. He’s a vet of 156 NHL games between Chicago, Dallas, and Minnesota.
- With Curry heading to the NHL, Iowa signed goaltender Rob Granett to an ATO.
Iowa signed Cody Reichard to a PTO after releasing Rob Granett from his ATO.
Reichard has spent the majority of this season with the club’s ECHL affiliate, the Orlando Solar Bears. He’s 13-4-1 this season with Orlando, with a 3.18 GAA and a .903. He also played seven games with the Fort Wayne Komets of the ECHL earlier in the year.
Reichard, 27, is in the second year of his pro career and played five games with the Houston Aeros (for home and name of our beloved Baby Wild) in the 2012-13 season, going 3-1-1 with a 2.41 GAA and a .910 save percentage.
- The Iowa Wild named Jon Blum their IOA Specialty AHL Man of the Year for “outstanding contributions to the Des Moines community during the 2013-14 season.”
Here’s some more on Blum’s contributions from the Wild site:
Not only did Jonathon sign up for various school visits throughout the season as part of the Wild About Reading Program , he was also proactive in his community outreach.
In a partnership with Defending the Blue Line , Jonathon donated his personal tickets for each Iowa Wild home game to local military families. After creating the donation program, he appropriately named it “Blum’s Brigade.” Not only did Blum donate his tickets, he also invited them to meet outside of the locker room after the game to personally thank them for the service and dedication to our country.
Jonathon and Emilie [Blum's fiancée] are also passionate animal advocates. The young couple has two dogs of their own, which they rescued from a shelter in California. Jonathon initiated a relationship with a large Des Moines area shelter called the Animal Rescue League (ARL). Along with three of his teammates, the four spent hours at the ARL shooting photos for a campaign promoting the shelter and animal compassion. The ARL and player involvement was also featured at an Iowa Wild home game.
Blum also significantly contributed to the Iowa Wild’s Pink in the Rink efforts. Jon’s mother is a cancer survivor, and he opened up about his family’s story for a feature article in the Des Moines Register. Jon also taped promotional videos for Susan G. Komen of Iowa to further their donation efforts.
Iowa continued their long road trip Friday, heading to Milwaukee to take on the sixth place Admirals (34-23-6-7). Wild forward Zack Phillips would collect the only tally as the Wild lost 4-1.
Admirals forward Taylor Beck scored twice with netminder Scott Darling stopping 23 of 24. The Wild had Gustafsson in net again, who stopped 23 of 27 and fell to 12-19-2 on the season.
Unlike their last game, the Wild never held the lead, with Phillips’ 12th goal of the season — a tip-in off a shot by Steven Kampfer — brought the score to 2-1 Admirals. The Admirals regained their two-goal advantage shortly after that with a goal by notable Nashville prospect Filip Forsberg off a pass from Taylor Beck.
The game ended with some fisticuffs, including Curt Gogol, who was given an instigator penalty within the last five minutes of the game, which is an automatic one-game suspension. He would miss Sunday’s game against the Chicago Wolves.
With that loss the Iowa Wild dropped to 26-33-6-4 on the season, dead last in the Western Conference and 13 points out of a playoff spot.
Sunday saw the end of the Wild’s five-game road trip with a game against the Chicago Wolves. Cody Reichard got his first AHL start of the season for the Wild, giving Gustafsson a break after a string of tough games.
The Wolves grabbed the lead with a goal from Alexandre Bolduc just 18 seconds in, but the Wild gained the lead shortly after that on goals from Tyler Graovac and Kris Foucault about a minute apart.
The Wolves would come back and take the lead 3-2 in the third. But Kris Foucault tied it up for the Wild at 8:37 of the third, netting his second of the game. That would be the score through regulation and the end of overtime.
In the end it took six rounds of the shootout to find a winner, when a Dylan Labbe goal got past Chicago’s Matt Climie to clinch the win for the Wild.
In other prospect news
The Wild’s CHL affiliate, theQuad City Mallards have started their first round playoff match-up against the Rapid City Rush. They lost the first game 5-1, but took game two 3-2 in overtime.
They’ll return home for games against the Rush on Wednesday and Friday, then head back to Rapid City for game five on Saturday.
- The Wild’s ECHL affiliate the Orlando Solar Bears (also the affiliate of the Toronto Maple Leafs) clinched a playoff berth last week and sit at number one in the south division with a record of 41-24-2-2.