THE WILD WIRE - HOLIDAY GAMES: A RECAPDec 31, 2020
Happy Holidays, Wild fans. I hope you all have an awesome 2021…
For my final blog of 2020, I thought I’d take a look at the many “holiday games” the Iowa Wild have played over seven seasons.
But first, a quick story…
Back in December of 2008 (the 2008-2009 season), I was in my first AHL season, working for the Houston Aeros, which was Minnesota’s affiliate at the time. It was the “Christmas break” and I had gone back to Philadelphia to spend a couple of days at home. The Aeros, after playing in Peoria on December 21st (I had to look this up, of course), didn’t have another game until a home date vs. San Antonio on December 26th. My return flight was early in the morning of the 26th, as Philly to Houston is a pretty quick, non-stop trip. The weather was fine that day, I got to the airport in plenty of time, and was checked in / through security. I was standing at the gate, as the flight started to board. All good, right? Then, an airline attendant came up from the jet bridge and spoke to the gate attendant and I’m thinking, “Man, this can’t be good”. Sure enough they make an announcement that the flight HAS BEEN CANCELLED.
Immediately my heart sinks into my stomach, my brain is racing, and I’m thinking “I can’t miss this game”. The customer service lines are inevitably packed and the options to get to Houston in time for the 7 pm puck drop are pretty much non-existent. I call my boss and lay out what happened. Obviously, she’s not pleased, which isn’t helping my state of mind. To make a long story less long (cause this clearly hasn’t been short thus far) I found someone in the terminal who was willing to give me their ticket for the next Philly to Houston flight, and take my seat on my new flight, which had a brutal layover and a super-long travel day. I mean, this guy was like my savior. He had no reason he couldn’t delay his trip, and I had to get moving…talk about getting lucky. And actually, I’m not sure how the airline really ever allowed this type of switch at the gate, but a lot has changed in 12 years, I guess. I coughed up some Christmas gift cash from my pocket, jumped on the “new” flight and I made it to Houston in plenty of time to call the game. Travesty averted. For the record, the Aeros lost to the San Antonio Rampage, 5-3, that night. Oh, and I later hooked up my airport savior with some tickets to an Aeros home game. So at least he had that going for him…
Now that I’ve totally gotten off track, here’s a look at some of the games the Iowa Wild have played around Christmas and New Year’s.
DECEMBER 26, 2013: IOWA 5, ROCKFORD 2 – WELLS FARGO ARENA
- Erik Haula scored his 8th goal of the season and John Curry made 37 saves, as the Wild got back to .500 with a 13-13-2-0 record
- That game was the final contest of a six-game point streak for the first-year Wild, a stretch where they went 5-0-1-0
DECEMBER 26, 2014: IOWA 2, ROCKFORD 1 – ROCKFORD, IL
- The Wild earned just their 10th win of the season (in 30 games) as Jordan Schroeder pots the game-winner. Curry was spectacular stopping 38 shots
- This was a RARE day after Christmas road game for Minnesota’s AHL affiliate – at this point in my “Minnesota” tenure we had played a home game on December 26 in each of my first six seasons with the organization
- FYI - these games are usually huge fr ticket sales since most people have nothing going on the day after Christmas and schools are on break
DECEMBER 26, 2015: IOWA 2, CHICAGO 1 – ROSEMONT, IL
- Grayson Downing and Joe Finley scored for the visiting Wild…Jeremy Smith got the win, stopping 26 of the 27 shots he faced
- And apparently, the December 26th road game wasn’t as rare as I thought….?!?
DECEMBER 31, 2015: MANITOBA 4, IOWA 3 – WINNIPEG, MANITOBA
- The end of the 2015 calendar year, spent in Canada…well, I’m sure we partied after the game….but I digress…the Moose scored four times in the second period to turn the tide
- Iowa finished with 44 shots in the loss
JANUARY 1, 2016: IOWA 4, MANITOBA 3 (SHOOTOUT) – WINNIPEG, MANITOBA
- Goaltender Leland Irving (25 saves) got the win, as Kurtis Gabriel, Tyler Graovac and Max Fortunus scored in regulation for the visiting Wild.
- Zack Mitchell had the shootout GWG, as the Wild kicked off the calendar year with a win, which was one of three AHL games played on January 1st
DECEMBER 26, 2016: IOWA 4, ROCKFORD 1 – WELLS FARGO ARENA
- Teemu Pulkkinen scored two goals and goaltender Alex Stalock made 22 saves as Iowa got its 14th win of the season
- Speaking f Pulkkinen…I kind of forgot about him / had an oversight when I put together my all-time AHL roster of players I’ve personally seen from Houston / Iowa. Pulkkinen’s ability to score is almost unmatched at the AHL level. A Calder Cup Champion with Grand Rapids, Pulkkinen scored 18 goals and totaled 36 points in just 47 games with the Wild. His career AHL stats read: 112 goals and 110 assists for 222 points in 241 regular season games
- ICYMI, here’s a link that blg I just referenced: https://www.iwawild.com/news/detail/wild-joe-radios-all-time-roster
DECEMBER 31, 2016: IOWA 2, CHICAGO 5 – WELLS FARGO ARENA
- This was a New Year’s Eve matinee where the top line of the visiting Wolves flexed their collective muscles, as Kenny Agostino (4g, 1a), Ivan Barbashev (1g, 3a) and Andrew Agozzino (3a) posted 12 points
- The Wild got third period goals from Gustav Olofsson and Gabriel in the loss
- The victory was Chicago’s fifth straight overall; Agostino went on to lead the AHL in scoring with 83 points, which was 15 points clear of the next closest player!
JANUARY 1, 2018: IOWA 1, CHICAGO 2 – ROSEMONT, IL3
- The Wolves got both of their goals in the first 6:55 of the game
- Mario Lucia scored Iowa’s only goal
- Oddly, the Wild didn’t play a December 26th game during the 2017-18 season – instead they hosted Grand Rapids on the 22nd and Rockford on the 28th.
DECEMBER 26, 2018: IOWA 4, ROCKFORD 0 – WELLS FARGO ARENA
- Kaapo Kahkonen pitched a 39-save shutout, as Iowa improved to 16-8-4-3 on the season
- Kahknen went 5-1-1 against Rockford during the 2018-19 season, allowing just eight goals in seven starts
- Will Bitten recorded his first pro goal in the win – the other goals came from Matt Bartkowski, Gerry Fitzgerald and Matt Read
DECEMBER 31, 2018: IOWA 3, CHICAGO 1 – WELLS FARGO ARENA
- Joel Eriksson Ek recorded the game-winning goal
- This game concluded a five-game home stand for Iowa, which began on December 21
- Iowa then went on the road to play the Wolves, sweeping the home-and-home with a 3-1 win on January 2
DECEMBER 31, 2019: IOWA 5, TEXAS 4 – WELLS FARGO ARENA
- The Stars rallied three times over the contest to even the score, before Brennan Menell scored a beautiful goal off the rush with just 1:12 left in regulation to lift the Wild to a thrilling victory in front of 6,000-plus fans
- The Wild went 4/4 on the power play
- There were a whopping 12 AHL games on New Year’s Eve 2019…Iowa’s closest game to the Christmas holiday last season was a December 27th tilt in Rockford, a 6-2 win
- Here’s a link to the highlights from the NYE win - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jxDFQswrWk4
8-3-0-0 RECORD WHEN PLAYING ON DECEMBER 26, DECEMBER 31 OR JANUARY 1
- 5-1-0-0 mark at home
- 5-0-0-0 on December 26th
- 2-2-0-0 on New Year’s Eve (won last 2)
- 1-1-0-0 on New Year’s Day
- Perfect 4-0-0-0 vs. Rockford
- Have only played in Iowa, Illinois or Manitoba (weird, I know)
- Wild Joe Radio