Iowa Falls to Ontario 6-5
DES MOINES, IOWA - Iowa Wild (21-13-4-3; 49 points) had its comeback attempt fall short as the team lost to the Ontario Reign (12-17-4-2; 30 pts.) by a score of 6-5 Friday night. Following tonight's outcome, Iowa dropped to third place in the Central Division but is just two points out of first place.
At 8:05 in the third period with the Wild trailing 5-4, the puck was loose right in front of Ontario goaltender Cal Peterson (28 saves). Forward Will Bitten hacked at a puck, but Peterson made the stop right at the goal line while sprawled on the ice. Another minute-plus ticked off the clock until the next stoppage of play, where the officials went back to review the play. After a brief look, the referees awarded Bitten with his third goal of the season, with forwards Gerry Mayhew and Cal O'Reilly earning the assists. The goal tied the game at 5-5 and was the third straight goal for the home side.
More than two minutes later though, forward Mike Amadio wrapped around the net of Kaapo Kahkonen (21 saves) before stuffing the puck past his right pad to give the Reign a 6-5 lead. His goal stood as the game-winner, giving the Reign a 6-5 victory and points in three straight games.
Ontario opened the contest with three consecutive goals, the first of which came 95 seconds into the first period. The Reign won an offensive-zone draw, which led to forward Kyle Bauman hitting Brad Morrison, another forward, with a pass at the back door. A quick tap home and Morrison recorded his ninth of the season.
The Reign doubled its lead to 2-0 at 10:16 in the first period. Forwards Nikita Scherbak and Sheldon Rempal engaged in a give-and-go as Scherbak split the Wild defense in the offensive zone. Scherbak then slipped the puck through Kahkonen's pads for his second of the 2018-19 campaign.
At the end of the first period, Ontario led 2-0 with Iowa holding a 9-7 shot advantage.
The visitors made it a 3-0 game as Rempal potted his 10th of the season at 3:22 in the middle frame. Rempal sent a pass to Morrison and then immediately received the puck back. He then wristed a shot off the right post and past Kahkonen for the score.
Iowa stopped Ontario's goal streak when forward Gerry Mayhew scored his 11th tally of the season. Mayhew beat a Reign defender to a loose puck in the corner and curled into the slot before rifling a shot. His attempt beat Peterson through the five-hole to cut the Reign's lead to 3-1. Bitten and defenseman Matt Bartkowski earned the assists.
Ontario responded with a goal just 48 seconds later as forward Matt Moulson converted on the power play. A shot from Amadio from the right side of the blueline was stopped by Kahkonen, but Moulson picked up the rebound and beat the goaltender to the post for the score.
Wild forward Kyle Rau once again cut Ontario's lead to two as he made it a 4-2 game at 16:52 in the second period. While on the power play, the Wild put pressure on Peterson, which caused him to lose his stick. Coming out from the corner, Rau put a shot on net that trickled through Peterson's arm for his 12th tally of the year and fourth in the past two games. Forward Sam Anas and O'Reilly notched the helpers.
Through two periods of play, the Reign led 4-2 with Iowa outshooting the visitors 22-20.
Seventeen seconds into the final frame, Moulson recorded his second goal of the game to give the Reign a 5-2 lead. Moulson tipped a shot from Amadio over Kahkonen's pad for his team-leading 14th of the season.
At 2:38 in the third period, Mayhew tallied his second goal of the game to bring the game to 5-3. On the man advantage, Mayhew slipped into the slot where Anas fed him a pass. Mayhew blasted the feed top-shelf with a one-timer for his 12th of the season and first multi-goal effort of the year. O'Reilly once again earned an assist on the play.
Iowa continued its comeback attempt when O'Reilly pulled the Wild within one at 6:19 in the third period. Bartkowski took a shot from the point that was saved by Peterson. O'Reilly crashed the net and cashed in on the rebound, cutting Ontario's lead to 5-4 with his sixth of the year. Bitten recorded an assist on O'Reilly's tally.
Following O'Reilly's goal were the tallies by Bitten and Amadio. Thanks to Amadio's game-winner at 10:25 in the third period, Peterson earned the first win of his career in his home state. The Waterloo, IA native is now 4-6-3 on the year and is just one of three Iowans to play in the NHL.
Both teams went 2-for-3 on the power play and Iowa finished the game outshooting Ontario 37-27. The two power-play goals were the most in a contest for the Wild since Dec. 21.
O'Reilly paced the Wild with a four-point night (1g, 3a), while Bitten (1g, 2a) and Mayhew (2g, 1a) each turned in three-point efforts. Anas and Bartkowski added a pair of assists as the fourth and fifth Wild player with multiple points in the contest.
Iowa and Ontario return to Wells Fargo Arena for a rematch Saturday evening. Puck drop is scheduled for 6:00 p.m. Any fan who had a ticket to tonight's game can exchange it at the Wild box office and receive a free ticket to one of three future games: Jan. 19 vs. Ontario, Jan. 21 vs. Rockford or Feb. 8 vs. San Antonio.
The Iowa Wild 2018-19 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.
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