Previously on the ‘Des Moines Report’. The Wild wrapped up a lengthy road trip while Des Moines was hosting the NCAA Basketball Tournament. Now, with just eight games remaining, and the Wild home for six of those games, solidifying the third spot in the Central Division will be goal number one for the Wild as they sit seven points clear of Milwaukee but six points behind Grand Rapids. On this edition, the Wild are in Stockton for two games before coming home for the final stretch of the season against Grand Rapids.
Game 66: at Stockton
The Wild would begin the Heat two game match-up in a fashion they would like to have back. Stockton would strike first with just seven minutes left in the first before adding a goal early in the second and another one with eight minutes left in the middle frame to take a 3-0 lead. However, Iowa would strike back for two goals late by Will Bitten and Dmitry Sokolov heading into the third trailing by a goal. Nate Prosser would net his first with Iowa to tie it up at three, but Stockton would take a 4-3 lead just less than two minutes later. The Heat would add an empty netter for the 5-3 victory. Andrew Hammond made 34 saves on the 38 shots he faced. The power-play would go scoreless in their six attempts while the penalty-kill would be successful four of the six times the Heat were on the man advantage.
Game 67: at Stockton
The final game of the road trip would conclude in Stockton with the Wild hoping to end it on a good note. In the first, the Heat would get on the board first just 2:37 into the contest before goals by Bitten and Sokolov gave the Wild a brief 2-1 lead. However, just passed the 12 minute mark, Stockton would tally the tying goal. In the second, Kyle Rau would once again give the Wild a one goal lead. But it wouldn’t be enough as Stockton tied it at 3 just five minutes in and then would win it with just 54 seconds remaining. Kaapo Kahkonen stopped 41 of the 45 shots he faced, while the power-play once again went scoreless in their two attempts but the penalty-kill was able to kill off the one Heat opportunity with the man advantage.
Game 68: vs Grand Rapids
For just the fourth time since February 22nd, the Wild would be back in Des Moines for a very important contest against the Griffins, a team they were trailing by four points coming into the game. The Wild would get on the board first thanks to a Riley Bourbonnais tally just three minutes in. That goal was also his first in a Wild uniform. However, the Griffins would strike back to tie things up going to the second period. In the second, Grand Rapids was up 2-1 for 19 seconds before Mason Shaw would tie the game on the power-play. A goal late in the second plus two more in the third would give Grand Rapids a 5-2 victory in a game the Wild needed the most. Andrew Hammond saved 32 of the 35 shots he saw while the power-play went one for four and the penalty-kill killed off all four chances the Griffins had.
The Wild are back in action tonight and tomorrow against Texas before another back-to-back against Tucson to wrap up the week as the regular season winds down.
Central Division Standings