There is no escaping the fact that this weekend’s games against the Lake Erie Monsters were brutal. No matter how great it was to see Mike Liambas score his first goal of the season on Friday. No matter how entertaining it can be for a goalie fight to break out. The Ads were outscored 10-3 in those two games.
Who comes to the rescue of the Ads looking to forget the opening games of 2014? Miley Cyrus and the Iowa Wild that’s who.
This game was originally scheduled for Sunday March 9th. A Miley Cyrus concert booking later and we’re playing this game on a Monday night – with courtesy cheap concessions for fans braving the cold weather to hit the rink. While this might have seemed annoying at first this now acts as a great springboard back into winning form against a team the Ads have owned so far this season.
This is the fourth meeting between the Ads and Wild and the Ads have put a hurting on the Iowa-side so far: 3 wins, 2 shutouts, and outscoring them 10-2. The top scorers for the Ads in this meeting have been Colton Sissons, Anthony Bitetto, Bryan Rodney, and Mark Van Guilder who all have 3 points in the games against Iowa. Sissons has a team best 2 goals – while the Wild’s Steven Kampfer has a goal and an assist to top Iowa’s end.
The big story for this game will be Scott Darling whose breakout party really started against the Wild. On 11/16, Darling made his second start of the season and completed a 32-save shutout over the Wild in Iowa. On 12/29, he did it again in Iowa with a 33-save shutout. Those are his lone games against Iowa – so that’s a pretty good save percentage. The only other goalie to face Iowa was Marek Mazanec who stopped 28/30 shots in a 5-2 road victory on 11/27. Ads goalies are a combined 93/95 in shots – that’s a 0.979 SV%.
The Wild will be entering tonight’s game in the cellar of the Midwest Division with a record of 14-14-2-1 (31 points). They are getting better as the season strums along – all be it in tight circumstances. In their previous ten games they have gone 6-2-1-1. Of those ten games – four gave gone past regulation – and three of those went to a shootout. Also of those ten games they have outscored their opponents by a narrow margin of 27-25.
The team lead in scoring is tied among three players with 17 points: Erik Haula (9 goals, 8 assists), Brian Connelly (1 goal, 16 assists), and ex-Admiral Jon Blum (4 goals, 13 assists). I truthfully don’t know what to make of it when a team has two defenseman, Blum and Connelly, in their top three in scoring. What still goes for the Wild is scoring from a vast number of players. They have eleven players in double-digit point totals with none at the 20-point plateau yet. The Ads have eight players in double-digit points with three players at the 20-point mark… and Bitetto at 19 points is right in there.
UPDATE: This morning the Minnesota Wild have recalled Haula and Blum. The Iowa Wild have signed d-man Nicholas Rioux to a PTO.
What do you expect tonight from the Ads? Will this be a bounce back or will the woes of Lake Erie continue? Can Darling shutout the Wild for a third-consecutive game?