Iowa Wild Drop Third Straight To Grand Rapids Griffins


The Iowa Wild are returning to Des Moines with no points after dropping all three games in their three-in-three. The latest defeat, like the first two, came by just one goal scored late in the third period.

The Grand Rapids Griffins walked all over Iowa Saturday night, taking a misleading 4-3 victory, with the lopsided shot total falling in Grand Rapids’ favor, 30-17.

Iowa got off to a strong start, taking first blood in the opening frame, something they’ve done far too infrequently this season. Kurtis Gabriel (who won over area kids this week) scored just 2:29 into the contest, with assists to Marc Hagel and Brady Brassart, who has four assists in his last four games. That goal was Gabriel’s third of the year and snaps a long, long slump for the big winger. His last goal came on November 21 against Rockford.

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It was just four minutes later that Tyler Graovac padded the lead, beating Griffins goaltender Jared Coreau, with assists going to Jordan Schroeder and Iowa’s lone All-Star, Matt Dumba. Graovac extended his team-lead in points on the night, and has two goals and two assists in his last two games.

Grand Rapids would answer before the end of the first, beating John Curry to cut Iowa’s lead to 2-1.

The Wild’s lead evaporated quickly in the second, with Grand Rapids tallying twice in the first five minutes. Iowa would carry a deficit of 3-2 up until the end of the second when Zack Mitchell scored the equalizer with just 32 seconds remaining in the period. Assists on that went to Graovac and Justin Falk. Mitchell scored in Friday’s loss as well, giving him goals in back-to-back games.

The Wild were outshot by two in the first, six in the second, and five in the third, but that progression masks that Iowa was only able to muster two shots in the third with the game on the line.

With just 4:20 left in the game, that inability to create offense caught up with Iowa after Teemu Pulkkinen potted what would stand as the game-winner. Pulkkinen, a fourth round draft pick for Detroit in 2010, is developing into a very intriguing player. He’s only grabbed six NHL games this season and is a little undersized, but he’s posted 21 goals and 22 assists through 36 AHL games this season. He’s a name you could be hearing a lot more of in the very near future. (And Detroit’s patience with his development is perfectly in line with how they regularly do such a great job of developing later-round draft picks.)

That caps off a pretty disappointing weekend for the Baby Wild. They dropped three straight. The games maybe felt a little better, a little closer, than many recent loses, but it’s hard to take a late goal three nights in a row as the game-winner. On Thursday they dropped a 1-0 decision in which they were badly outshot, but were riding an impressive night by Curry. They dropped a 4-3 decision on Friday with a late goal being the decider in a game where they played very well. And then Saturday’s game. It wasn’t an inspiring way to head into the AHL’s All-Star Break.

Iowa is off until Thursday, when they start their third straight three-in-three, with games Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.