WILD REWRITE RECORD BOOKS IN 2018-19 SEASONJun 4, 2019
By Jacob Born
The 2018-19 Iowa Wild season was a historic one. Not only did the team reach the Calder Cup Playoffs for the first time in franchise history, but the team also set a record for the most records broken in a single season.
Last season, the Wild broke 40 records and tied another 15, the previous record.
This year? The team set 53 records and tied 33 more, creating 86 new entries into the Wild record book. The team also made the Calder Cup Playoffs for the first time in franchise history, earning its first playoff win on April 21, 2019 and winning its first series on April 29.
The Wild finished its best season ever with 37 wins and 87 points. The team made sure to send the fans home happy as well, earning 23 wins on home ice. Much of that can be credited to Head Coach Tim Army’s offensive style of play, as the team netted 242 goals this season, including 140 at home, for an average of 3.18 per game. All, of course, new team highs.
Speaking of fans, Des Moines once again proved to be a hockey town as the team set a new attendance record, with 243,558 fans coming to watch a game at Wells Fargo Arena and another 27,505 to see the team compete in its first-ever Calder Cup Playoffs run. The team also celebrated its 200th home game this season, being played on Nov. 16, 2018 against Milwaukee.
Home proved to be a major factor for the Wild, as many records were set on home ice. The team started the season with five consecutive wins in Des Moines, the longest streak in team history, and added a nine-game point streak from Jan. 9 – March 15, also the longest in team history. On Dec. 21, the Wild tied its record for most goals in a single game in an 8-7 win, but its eight goals were the most ever on home ice. That game, the Wild registered 15 assists and 23 points, the most ever in a single game. In a 6-3 win against San Antonio on March 15, the Wild netted five power-play goals, the highest ever; three of which came in the second period, the most in a single frame in team history.
Special teams were a key factor for the Wild this season, as the team set a new record for power-play goals overall (69) and at home (42). The team also scored 10 shorthanded goals this year, seven of which came at Wells Fargo Arena.
The two players who may have benefitted the most from the uptick in special teams scoring were forwards Cal O’Reilly and Kyle Rau. O’Reilly had an absurd 26 assists and 32 points on the man advantage, all team highs. Rau potted 17 goals on the power play, a team-high, career-high and most in the AHL this season.
O’Reilly’s power-play assist and points record were just two of 12 individual records he set this season, capping off one of the most prolific seasons in his career and a Wild player in team history. Once again, he set team records for assists (51) and points (67) in a single season and in just two years with Iowa, he ranks first in career assists (100), second in points (131), second in power-play assists (41) and second in power-play points (54).
On the blueline, no player had as big of an impact on the record books than Brennan Menell and Louie Belpedio. Menell upped his three broken records from last season to four in 2018-19. Menell had 42 assists and 44 points this past year, both new highs for a defenseman. Of those 42 assists and 44 points, 20 assists and 21 points came on the power-play as he quarterbacked the top unit for the Wild this season.
As for Belpedio, he set a number of records for rookie defensemen. He too benefited from playing special teams, notching nine assists and 12 points on the man advantage. His 147 shots on goal also were the most by a rookie blueliner, and his 70 games played tied Menell for the most ever by a first-year defenseman.
In net, both Andrew Hammond and Kaapo Kahkonen made significant contributions to the record book. Kahkonen famously had a shutout streak of 222:22 this season en route to becoming the first player ever in Wild history to receive a monthly award when he was named the AHL’s Goaltender of the Month for November. Hammond tied the record for consecutive wins with five but also made 55 saves against Colorado on Oct. 26., a new high in a single game. Kahkonen’s six shutouts were the most by a Wild netminder in a single season and lead all AHL goaltenders in 2018-19 and Hammond earned the first-ever win by a Wild goaltender in the Calder Cup Playoffs. Kahkonen he set six rookie records, including minutes played (2372:38), wins (17), shutouts (6) and saves (1080).
One of the best testaments to the Wild’s season this year won’t be found in the record books though. Iowa is a developmental team for Minnesota and this season, two players on AHL contracts were rewarded for their hard work by signing NHL deals with Minnesota. Colton Beck signed his deal on Nov. 1 and Gerry Mayhew, fresh off a nine-goal, 11-point Calder Cup Playoff run, signed his contract on May 10.
The 2018-19 season was one for the record books. Now, the team looks to continue to build off it for 2019-20.