December 31, 2017 - American Hockey League (AHL) - Iowa Wild
ROCKFORD, ILL. - Iowa Wild (15-10-6-2; 38 pts.) closed out 2017 with a 5-3 victory against Rockford IceHogs (18-12-1-1; 38 pts.) Friday night in the second game of a home-and-home series.
For the second time in as many games, Rockford scored early, taking a 1-0 lead at the 2:51 mark of the opening period on a goal by Matheson Iacopelli as he knocked in a rebound past Wild goaltender Steve Michalek (45 saves). The goal marked the 16th game this season the Wild allowed the first score of the game, including five of the team's past seven contests.
Late in the first period, forward Mario Lucia tied the game for Iowa, cashing in on a rebound off IceHogs goaltender Collin Delia (25 saves). Lucia, using his body to screen Delia, was right on the doorstep as defenseman Ryan Murphy unleashed a slap shot and after a quick tip by forward Justin Kloos, Lucia found the back of the net.
At the end of the first period, the teams were tied 1-1, with Rockford holding a 15-10 shot advantage.
Forward Luke Kunin gave the Wild the 2-1 lead early in the second stanza when he ripped a one-timer past Delia just 1:34 into the frame. Kunin was set up by Murphy, who earned his second assist, giving the Wild its second power-play goal of the game. In seven games against Rockford this season, Murphy has recorded eight points (1g, 7a).
Lucia potted his second goal of the game with some tic-tac-toe passing by the Wild to give Iowa a 3-1 lead. Coming into the offensive zone on a 3-on-1, forward Christoph Bertschy sent a cross-ice pass to center Cal O'Reilly, who found Lucia all alone in the slot. Lucia buried the chance and notched his first career multi-goal game with the score.
At 10:52 in the second period, forward Landon Ferraro scored the Wild's third goal of the period, giving the team the 4-1 lead. Bertschy and O'Reilly both recorded helpers on the goal, giving them each a multi-point game; Bertschy's fourth and O'Reilly's sixth of the season.
The Wild's 4-1 lead held up until the 10:41 mark of the third period when Rockford scored twice in 25 seconds. IceHogs forward Tanner Kero scored his first goal of the year to make it 4-2 and then forward Tyler Sikura notched his third point (2g, 1a) in the last two games against Iowa when he deflected a shot past Michalek at 11:06.
Iowa's Kyle Rau made sure Rockford's comeback fell short, as he recorded a shorthanded, empty net goal at 18:58 for his eighth goal of the season, securing the 5-3 win for the visitors.
With the win, the Wild has earned points in four of its last five games and improved its record to 6-9-1-0 when the opponent scores first. Iowa opens up the New Year with a matinee against Chicago Wolves Jan. 1 with a 12:00 p.m. puck drop at Wells Fargo Arena.
The Iowa Wild 2017-18 season is presented by Mercy Medical Center and runs from October through April. For more information, please contact the Wild office by calling 515-564-8700 or by visiting www.iowawild.com.