Iowa Wild Shutout By Chicago Wolves


While things continue to spiral out of control in St. Paul, things continue on as they have been in Des Moines with maybe a touch more hope as things have occasionally appeared to be on the upswing in Iowa.

The Baby Wild returned to Des Moines after a long road trip that had them losing a couple, but also offering a touch of that hope by beating the very tough Utica Comets and the reigning Calder Cup Champion Texas Stars.

Unfortunately for the Wild, Tuesday’s return to Wells Fargo Arena would end without the Wild getting one past Wolves goaltender Matt Climie.

The team had a few milestones that were being hit before the game even got going though. As we mentioned yesterday, Olivier Archambault would make his Iowa Wild debut following a call-up from the Alaska Aces.

Also notable was forward Brett Sutter playing in his 500th career AHL game. (Though that’s one of those milestones most players don’t necessarily want to celebrate.)

And a final non-celebratory milestone, Iowa’s reigning Iron Man, Zack Phillips had his game streak broken. He’s played in 112 straight Iowa Wild games, the only player to suit up for every single Iowa game since the move to Iowa. He missed because he was made a healthy scratch. Also scratched were defenseman Brad Richard and forward Kurtis Gabriel.

The game started with Johan Gustafsson making a couple of nice saves to keep the Wild in it early. The team got out of the first even-up despite being outshot 13-6.

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But early in the second rookie forward Archambault would take a tripping penalty that lead to a power play marker for the Wolves’ Shane Harper.

The Wild remained in the game though. It hadn’t broken open by the end of the second despite the Wild being out shot 23-12.

In the third Iowa almost made it a game after Zack Mitchell took off for a shorthanded opportunity following a too many men on the ice penalty. Climie closed the door though and it wasn’t too long afterward that Philip McRae tallied Chicago’s second goal of the game, leaving Iowa down two with just over five minutes to play.

Iowa got some opportunities, but was never able to convert. With 2:10 left in the game, John McCarthy iced the game for good, putting the puck into the empty net and sealing Iowa’s hopes of a late-game rally.

Despite getting shutout and dropping another game, Iowa has been playing with some fire. They look mad when they get beat. You could see it at the end of the Chicago game with Joel Rechlicz getting into it with the Chicago bench before getting an unsportsmanlike conduct (a matching penalty went to Chicago’s Colin Fraser).

Gustafsson was excellent in net, stopping 35 of 37 Wolves shots and earning himself third star of the game honors.

Gustafsson is sporting a .897 SV% right now. Not where you want your goaltender to be for sure, but a number of his worst nights this season have come on the back end of back-to-backs. He’s played both games in a back-to-back five times this season, a result of AHL teams tending to play back-to-backs over the weekend frequently and goaltender issues taking John Curry away from Iowa pretty regularly this year.

If you remove the back end of those back-to-backs Gustafsson has a .907 Sv%. Not exactly in contention for an All Star nod, but it’s a SV% that says much better things about his development. At 22 he’s got time to develop, is playing a lot, and is showing signs of promise. So, there’s your silver lining for the day.

Sick of reading about the Minnesota Wild’s losing streak? Read a piece from the Des Moines Register about John Torchetti and how things have already changed since he took over coaching duties in Iowa. Or go read a piece by Tom Witosky about the Iowa Wild’s Jason Gregoire.