Oct 5, 2018

By Tom Witosky

Follow @toskyAHLWild

Coming back to Iowa.

Iowa Wild forwards Sam Anas and Matt Read find themselves back in the city where they’ve had success and plan to show just how ready they are for the NHL. At the same time, they also expect to make major contributions to end the five-year playoff drought that has bedeviled the franchise since its arrival six seasons ago.

“It is back to Des Moines and focusing on the team,” said Anas, who led the AHL Wild in goals 26, a club record. “Last season, we were a good team for most of the year, but we saw again how things can derail quickly. I think we just have to focus on being a great team the whole season and good things will come.”

Anas and Read, who played one season for the USHL’s Des Moines Buccaneers in 2006-07, are expected to play major roles in Iowa’s efforts during the 2018-19 season. The team will take the ice at 7:00 p.m. Friday against the Manitoba Moose, and new Wild Head Coach Tim Army said he likes what he has seen so far.

“We are getting up to speed with some of the new additions, but the transition for everyone is going pretty well,” Army said. “I’m already seeing a lot of good hard work and enthusiasm from everyone.”

Anas and Read were among 10 players to arrive within the last week from the Minnesota Wild’s training camp. Read, who signed a one-year contract during the offseason with Minnesota, said he understood he might be playing in Des Moines for part of the hockey season when he made the agreement.

“It is an opportunity for me,” the 32-year-old Ilderton, ON native said.  “I had a good training camp and feel like I am still an NHL player. I understood from the beginning the amount of space Minnesota has on the roster and knew what could happen. I just want to make the opportunity count.”

Read also acknowledged his one season in Des Moines made the decision to sign with the Wild a bit easier.

“It was a long time ago,” Read said with a bit of a laugh. “But I also know it is a great town. When I was here in juniors, I liked it here.”

Iowa Wild General Manager Tom Kurvers expressed confidence in Read’s ability to play and help lead the Wild’s AHL club this season. Kurvers added Read provides depth to Minnesota’s frontlines if he is needed.

“Matt is not an ex-NHL player. He finished the season last year in the playoffs for the Flyers,” Kurvers said. “I’ve known Matt since he was a college free agent. I have trust in him and if he is down here, he is going to give everything that he has. He is a really good hockey player.”

Meanwhile, the 25-year-old Anas returns to Iowa with a new two-year contract and looking to impress the NHL club with his stickhandling and scoring ability. He said his training camp went well.

“I was happy with how training camp went,” Anas said. “Obviously, I hoped I would make Minnesota, but I think I accomplished what I wanted in making a good impression. Hopefully, I left myself in a position that I will get called up sometime during the year.”

In setting Iowa’s individual record for goals in a season, Anas played a major role on one of the club’s most consistent lines last season, playing with center Justin Kloos and forward Gerry Mayhew.

“We lost a couple of key guys but we also brought back a chunk of our core nucleus to last year’s team,” Anas said. “It is important to us not just on the ice, but off the ice. This is a good group and we get along really well.”

Army said the club will carry 15 forwards and nine defensemen on the roster to start the season as he and the coaching staff sort out how to deploy its forward lines and defensive pairings.

“They were working hard at trying to execute the things we’ve been talking about,” Army said. “They are working on the concepts that we’ve introduced to them. It is going to take practice and a lot of repetition before it becomes natural, but you can see them beginning to catch on to it.”

Overall, Army said the team appears ready to begin the regular season as soon as possible. Anas agreed.

“I am definitely ready for the season to start,” Anas said. “I have been counting down the days to when we can start to play real hockey.”

Welcome back to Iowa.

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