THE WILD WIRE - #20Mar 4, 2019
Can you believe it’s already March? That just feels crazy to me. As I sit here in the Denver airport on a layover, my wife tells me it’s freezing cold in Des Moines right now. Awesome news. Not that it was overly warm the last week in California, but just to walk around outside without multiple layers and a heavy coat was a nice change.
I can’t wait for warmer weather and when you mix in a little playoff hockey with the sun shining and the temperature rising, there’s really nothing better!
Speaking of which, the Iowa Wild inched a little closer to a postseason berth this past week, securing five of a possible eight points in San Jose, Bakersfield and Ontario (two games).
Veteran winger Kyle Rau has been finding the scoresheet on a consistent basis lately, recording 10 points over his last eight games.
On Saturday in Ontario, he netted his second hat trick of the season, becoming the first Wild player to ever accomplish that. It was also his third career AHL three-goal game.
What’s interesting about his two hat tricks this season is that he factored into every goal in both games:
- Jan. 14 vs. San Diego: three goals on five shots in a 3-2 overtime win against the Gulls
- March 2 at Ontario: three goals and an assist plus six shots in a 5-4 overtime loss against the Reign
The other thing (as noted above) is that both games went to overtime.
Rau is closing in on 20 goals for the second straight year. He had 23 last season and he’s currently sitting on 19 this campaign. The next time he finds the back of the net, he’ll become the first player in team history with two 20-goal seasons in a Wild sweater.
Iowa Wild had six “chances” at the empty net on Saturday night during their somewhat epic collapse and eventual stunning 5-4 overtime loss in Ontario.
Assistant coach Brett McLean told me after the game the staff counted five shots towards the empty Reign cage, plus a play where Mason Shaw was hunting down a loose puck in the Reign zone before Ontario’s Mike Amadio stick-checked him away from the puck (could have been called a penalty, but it wasn’t).
Now, keep in mind the Wild were shorthanded (major penalty to Iowa’s Mike Liambas) the entire time the Reign mounted their comeback, so as Iowa was misfiring towards the empty net, there were no icing calls. In my opinion, most of those were just clearing attempts as the Wild were trying desperately to take time off the clock, but the players would have to confirm whether they were aiming for the net or just getting it out of the zone.
Regardless, several of those opportunities missed by a foot or less. Just another example of how sports often come down to a bounce here or there.
IT AIN’T CHEATING IF YOU DON’T GET CAUGHT
The Ontario Reign had seven players on the ice when they scored their second goal of the game on Friday. Legally, they were allowed to have six, as Ontario was on a power play and had its goalie pulled. Go back and watch the replay of the tally by Zack Mitchell, which made it a 4-2 game. There are six Reign skaters in the celebration, plus a defenseman about 15 feet from the pile of players.
Not sure how that was missed, but here’s the icing on the cake…
On Sunday, with the Wild leading 5-4, the Reign tried to cheat the system again!
While on a power play and their goalie pulled, they snuck a seventh player out in the closing moments of the game. This time however, Iowa hung on for the victory.
I saw the footage from Saturday night in the coach’s office prior to puck drop on Sunday. After the game Sunday, the Wild coaches said it happened again.
That takes some major gumption, no? Or, I guess if you didn’t get busted the first time around, why not try it again???
Big games this weekend for Iowa – catch ya in Grand Rapids on Friday night. Pre-game show on 1460 KXNO starts at 5:45 p.m. Central.
- Wild Joe Radio