IOWA ENDS 2019 ON HIGH NOTE WITH 5-4 WIN VS. TEXASDec 31, 2019
-Wild finish the calendar year with a 37-30-6-3 record-
Iowa Wild (18-12-2-2; 40 pts.) closed out 2019 in dramatic fashion, earning the 5-4 victory against the Texas Stars (13-17-2-2; 30 pts.) as defenseman Brennan Menell scored with just 1:12 remaining on the clock.
With the Wild on the man advantage, forward Sam Anas gave the puck to Menell as he skated with speed through the neutral zone. He found forward Kyle Rau at the blueline and engaged in a quick give-and-go with the forward to get into the attacking zone. Menell the carved around a defender to the net front and chipped the puck just past the blocker of goaltender Jake Oettinger (20 saves) for his third tally of the year to give the Wild a 5-4 lead with just 1:12 left to play and eventually the win.
Just 2:38 into the first period Anas opened the scoring to give the Wild a 1-0 lead. A Texas defender mishandled the puck behind the net and Anas picked up the loose puck and capitalized by tucking it behind Oettinger and into the net for the unassisted tally.
Texas evened the game at 1-1 at 12:18 in the first period as forward Joel L’Esperance scored his 15th of the season. As he was skating through the slot, L’Esperance caught a pass from defenseman Reece Scarlett and fired a shot on net. Goaltender Kaapo Kahkonen (20 saves) made the stop, but L’Esperance followed his shot and beat the Wild netminder on the rebound stick-side.
The Wild took a 2-1 lead at 17:53 in the opening frame as forward Nico Sturm logged his seventh goal of the season. Forward JT Brown took a shot that was blocked in front and forward Brandon Duhaime kicked the loose puck into the high slot, where Sturm then snapped a shot past the sliding Oettinger and into the back of the net for the power-play goal.
Through the first 20 minutes of play, Iowa led 2-1 and shots were tied at 8-8.
The Stars once again tied the game, knotting it at 2-2 as forward Joel Kiviranta tallied his ninth of the year at 8:04 in the second period. Forward Anthony Louis streaked into the Wild zone and dropped a pass to Kiviranta, who wristed a shot past Kahkonen blocker-side.
Forward Gerry Mayhew recorded his team-leading 19th goal of the season to give Iowa a 3-2 lead at 11:09 in the second period. With the Wild on the power play, Anas sent a pass to Kyle Rau on the right side of the net, who immediately booted the puck to Mayhew inside the right circle. Mayhew then knuckled a one-timer under Oettinger’s glove for the goal.
The Wild added another power-play goal, its third of the contest, at 14:41 in the second stanza to extend the team’s lead to 4-2. Forward Luke Johnson took a shot from the left point that was saved by Oettinger, but Rau grabbed the rebound and stuffed it home for his seventh of the campaign.
Texas then cut into Iowa’s lead as forward Michael Mersch made it a 4-3 game at 18:23 in the second period. Mersch received a pass from forward Tye Falhaber inside the left circle before waiting out Kahkonen and lasered a shot past the mask of the netminder for his 11th of the year.
Heading into the third period, Iowa led 4-3 while the Stars outshot the Wild 19-18.
Defenseman Emil Djuse tied the game at 4-4 for Texas, scoring his third tally of the year at 9:42 in the third period. After feathering a pass to forward Brad McClure, Djuse drove to the far post to redirected a return pass just past the outstretched pad of Kahkonen for the tally.
Menell then secured the win for Iowa with his tally at 18:48 in the third period, the Wild’s fourth power-play goal of the contest, to clinch the 5-4 victory. Iowa finished the game outshooting Texas 25-24.
Iowa was perfect on both the power play and penalty kill, going 4-for-4 and 1-for-1, respectively. The game marked the first time Iowa scored on every power play in a game since April 3, 2019 at Tucson (1-for-1) and the first time since Jan. 25, 2019 at Milwaukee the Wild was flawless on the power play (1-for-1) and penalty kill (2-for-2).
Iowa closes out its three-game homestand with a contest against the Rockford IceHogs on Friday, Jan. 3. Puck drop is at 7:00 p.m.
The Iowa Wild 2019-20 regular season is presented by MercyOne Des Moines Medical Center and runs from October through April. For more information, please contact the Wild office by calling 515-564-8700 or by visiting www.iowawild.com.