Iowa Wild Lose To Utica In Shootout


The Iowa Wild took on the North Division-leading Utica Comets on Sunday, in Iowa’s first home game in 19 days. The two teams battled once earlier in the season with the Wild handing Utica a rare home loss in regulation.

Iowa continues to battle through injuries, with players coming in and out of the lineup, as well as a number of players getting reassigned and released. The team had Joel Rechlicz, Brad Richard, Ruslan Fedotenko, Guillaume Gelinas, Jason Gregoire, Gustav Olofsson, Josh Harding, Alex Gudbranson, and Raphael Bussieres out of the lineup due to injury. They’ve also recently released/reassigned Joe Perry, Danny Syvret, and Benjamin Dieude-Fauvel.

Coach John Torchetti rearranged the forward groups prior to Sunday’s game, looking to bring a little toughness to each of the lines. The lines looked like this at the start of the game, but were getting shaken up by the end of the night.

Keranen – Graovac – Gabriel
veilleux – Brassart – Bulmer
Hagel – Sutter – Mitchell
Archambault – Schultz – Knight

The team also carried seven defensemen on the bench, something they’ve done a fair amount recently.

Torch gave John Curry the start in net, which was almost a given with how well Curry has been playing lately. Coming into the game, Curry had four straight games with a save percentage of .912 or higher. There of those were .944 or higher.

Curry had his work cut out for him to open the game, as the Comets peppered him in the first, coming out of the period with a 11-5 advantage in shots, but a tied score.

To start the second period, Stu Bickel dropped the gloves with the Comets’ Andrey Pedan in what wound up being a lopsided match. Bickel got in a lot of strong rights before the fight got a little bleak and Pedan collapsed forward. Pedan tried to go to the penalty box afterward, but the refs steered him to the locker room.

Pedan returned to the bench halfway through the second, but left the bench again before ever getting on the ice.

It didn’t take long for the Wild to get behind after that. At 6:09 of the second Nicklas Jensen opened the scoring for the Comets. That was followed by a pair of power play goals from the Comets that would have them go up 3-0.

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At the halfway point of the second period, Iowa had only a single shot on net, with the shot balance being wildly lopsided toward the Comets in the game overall. But the Wild started to push back at the end of the second, finishing the period with seven shots to Utica’s 12.

Iowa got on the board just before the end of the frame, with Tyler Graovac banging home the rebound on a Jonathon Blum shot from the point. It was a power play goal, stopping Utica’s impressive 20-for-20 PK streak coming into the game.

Nonetheless, the Wild exited the period with a 3-1 deficit, displaying the opposite of what Coach Torchetti has said he was looking for from the team in the middle frame.

In the third, the Wild grabbed another power play goal at the 8:09 mark, this one a bullet from Collin Bowman, scoring his second as a member of the Wild. Blum came out of that with the primary assist and Michael Keranen had the secondary.

Keranen has been among Iowa’s point leaders all season, but had only one assist in the four games since he returned from his fruitless call-up to the NHL where he wasn’t able to make his debut.

Just over five minutes later Steve McCarthy tied the game on his first goal in a Wild uniform, with an assist going to Brett Sutter. He grabbed that goal dropping down from the point to bang the puck in off a rebound in the crease.

Tied it would remain through regulation. In overtime, Sutter took a hooking penalty less than a minute in, putting Iowa down a man. But they held their own, killed the penalty, and made a nice push through a fast-paced OT period that saw Utica outshoot the Wild 3-0. The period didn’t have a whistle after the penalty, so it never made it to 3-on-3 play, but remained 4-on-4 for the full seven-minute period.

In the shootout, Coach Torchetti gave the Wild’s shots to Graovac and Zack Mitchell, both of who missed. Graovac was stopped by one of the AHL’s best, Jacob Markstrom. Mitchell missed the net.

They’d only get two shots, because Utica beat Curry on both of their attempts to ice the game.

Iowa stole a point in that one with a hard push at the end of the game. After the midway point of the second they took control, outshooting Utica 14-6 in the third.

Graovac’s goal put him at a team-leading 20 on the season and makes him the first player to ever hit 20 goals in a season while wearing an Iowa wild jersey.

Also, Iowa hosted their first ever in-game wedding between the first and second periods. Wild radio voice Joe O’Donnell became Reverend Joseph O’Donnell and officiated the ceremony. The couple looks pretty excited to be married during the game.

Watch highlights from the game below:

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