THE WILD WIRE - #14Jan 22, 2019
DIVING INTO THE SCORERS
After Iowa Wild’s 4-2 win over the Ontario Reign on Saturday night, I was thinking about how the more experienced players really stepped up in the victory.
Two goals by Sam Anas. Two goals by Cal O’Reilly. And Iowa was able to rally from a two-goal deficit to win at home.
On Monday afternoon, in a 4-1 win over Rockford, the trend continued, as veteran winger Kyle Rau had two goals.
Outside of rookie Will Bitten, not one other first-year player has found the back of the net in the last 10 games.
I’m not pointing this out because it should be concerning. In fact, it’s sort of a harsh reality of the AHL/professional ranks. Put bluntly: this time of year, it gets harder to score goals. With the All-Star game right around the corner, don’t expect the post-break hockey to look any different. Teams are starting to gear up for the postseason and the emphasis on keeping pucks out of your own net increases this time of year.
Hopefully the Wild can get some big goals down the stretch from guys like Mason Shaw, Gerry Fitzgerald, Dmitry Sokolov, Mitch McLain and the aforementioned Bitten. They’re all rookie forwards and some of them are probably feeling the toll of the long pro season.
You know the guys with experience understand how to handle the grind. One of the big questions down the stretch for every AHL team is whether or not each club can count on offensive contributions from the first-year players.
KLOOS TO ANAHEIM
The Minnesota Wild made a trade with the Anaheim Ducks on Wednesday, which saw Justin Kloos depart the organization. In exchange, Minnesota acquired winger Pontus Aberg, who’s an everyday NHL player.
You don’t find many players more well-liked by his teammates than Kloos.
On the ice, he brought it every night. Despite being in just his second pro season, Kloos is a true pro. His work ethic and compete level are through the roof and he’s got a good skill set to match.
At the time of the trade, he ranked sixth in franchise history with 81 points. As a rookie last season, he set five team records, including power play goals, assists and points by a first-year player.
Kloos played in just his second career NHL game on Saturday night, dressing for Anaheim on the road against the New Jersey Devils. The Lakeville, Minn. native got in one NHL game last season with the Wild.
BELPEDIO RECALLED / HUNT ACQUIRED
Congrats are in order for rookie defenseman Louie Belpedio, who earned his first NHL call-up of the season earlier this week.
Belpedio got into two games with Minnesota, averaging about 13 minutes in ice time.
He was just sent back down to Iowa and should be in the lineup Friday in Milwaukee.
I don’t know this for sure, but I’m assuming the reason he was sent back to Iowa was because Minnesota just traded for veteran defenseman Brad Hunt – the deal became official, ironically enough, just hours after the Wild defeated the Vegas Golden Knights.
Iowa Wild fans should remember Hunt from his days with the Oklahoma City Barons, Edmonton’s now-defunct AHL affiliate, as well as his time with the Chicago Wolves.
In six games against Iowa in the 2014-2015 season, Hunt notched three goals and three assists. A couple of seasons later, he racked up three goals and an assist in just three games against the Wild.
He’s been entirely in the NHL the last two seasons.
BORN TO BLOG
Our own Jacob Born will be at the All-Star festivities this weekend in Springfield, Mass. Thus, he’ll provide next week’s “Wild Wire” blog, dishing out some notes and stories from the two-day event.
Iowa Wild center Cal O’Reilly, goaltender Kaapo Kahkonen and head coach Tim Army will represent the organization.
- Wild Joe Radio