THE WILD WIRE #2Oct 15, 2018
There was a time when Iowa Wild’s franchise record for most consecutive wins was three. That’s right, just three. It wasn’t just like a start-of-the-franchise-type-of-thing; that record stood until Jan. 14, 2017, when Christoph Bertschy scored in overtime in San Antonio to help Iowa win its fourth in a row. The Wild played 266 games without ever winning more than three in a row up until that point. That’s basically three and a half seasons on the button before ever achieving such a feat.
My, how things have changed.
With its shootout win Friday night, this year’s edition of the Wild is now 3-0-0-0 on the season. All three wins have come at home, which in itself is impressive considering last season’s 18 home victories set a franchise record.
Combine the last two seasons (under the tutelage of Derek Lalonde) and tack on this season’s quick start and Iowa is 14 games OVER .500 in their last 155 games. I know it’s a small sample size (regarding this season), but that doesn’t change the fact a positive start to the season was much needed.
Plus, a “winning culture” doesn’t happen overnight. Some of the foundation was laid the last two years and getting off to a good start this season certainly helps the locker room “believe” they can achieve big things. The hope, of course, is that things continue to trend upwards and eventually, this team is playing its best hockey in March and April.
A whopping 17 players (including goaltender Andrew Hammond) have already recorded a point through the first three games. That’s outstanding balance this early in the season and should certainly help the confidence of the individual players as they look to further define their roles on the team.
An early surprise to the season is the fact that last year’s leading scorer, Cal O’Reilly, hasn’t registered a point yet. In fact, he’s the only player to play in all three games and not record at least one point.
Last season, O’Reilly went three games without a point just five times all year (he played in 75 games) and not once did he go four straight contests without finding the scoresheet.
Factor in the “lack” of point production from Sam Anas (0g, 1a) and Matt Read (0g, 1a) and one might even be surprised the Wild have started undefeated through three games. Yet, because of this team’s depth and balance, Iowa’s 5.33 goals per game leads the AHL as of October 15.
At some point soon O’Reilly, Anas and Read are going to start racking up some points, which is a scary thought for the rest of the Western Conference.
LONE STAR SHOWDOWN
In sort of a scheduling quirk, the Wild’s next two games are also against the Texas Stars, with road tilts coming Friday and Saturday down in Cedar Park.
The Wild have been off since Friday. Meanwhile, the Stars have already played in Rockford (Saturday) and they still have to battle the Griffins (in Grand Rapids) on Wednesday, Oct. 17.
Maybe Texas is a bit weary come Friday and the Wild can take advantage of it as the game moves on.
Expectations are that goaltender Kaapo Kahkonen will get his first career AHL start at some point this weekend. The Finnish-born netminder was originally drafted by Minnesota in 2014 (fourth round). Kahkonen has made a great impression on his teammates and coaches thus far and he’s been biding his time while his battery mate, Hammond, has gone 3-0-0-0 with a 1.62 goals against average and a .939 save percentage through the season’s first two weeks.
-Wild Joe Radio