WINNIPEG, MB – Sam Anas set the franchise record for points in a season, scoring his 20th goal of the season to help the Iowa Wild defeat the Manitoba Moose, 3-2. The victory helped the club set two single-season marks. Mat Robson stopped 31 shots and Brennan Menell recorded his 100th point as a Wild player on a historic Sunday afternoon.
Anas entered the contest tied with Cal O’Reilly for the most points in a single season but it was just 3:30 into the contest before he snapped that mark. Louie Belpedio fired a shot that hit off Anas, leaving it loose in front of the Manitoba goal. Anas was able to find the puck behind him, corral it and then drag it around Moose netminder Mikhail Berdin as he was being knocked down to give Iowa a 1-0 lead.
That gave Anas 68 points, breaking the mark O’Reilly set last year.
The lead did not last long, however, as Manitoba scored a little less than two minutes later. With Iowa on the power play, Menell was unable to swat the puck away from David Gustafsson, allowing him to gain control and head into the Wild end on a partial breakaway. He moved in looking like he was going to sweep across the crease, then fired a wrist into the top corner for his second goal of the season.
The score remained tied heading into the second period, but Luke Johnson put his team back on top. With Iowa back on the power play, Menell had the puck at the point. He fed it to Johnson, who skated to just above the left faceoff circle before firing a laser that beat Berdin over the shoulder for his 17th goal of the year and ninth in his last 13 games. It was his 12th power play goal of the year.
In the third, the Wild extended their lead to two. At the 7:26 mark, Anas gained control of the puck in the neutral zone. He fed it across to Colton Beck just before he entered the Manitoba end. Beck moved about 20 feet from the net before firing a wrist shot that found the far corner of the net for his fourth goal of the year.
The Wild were in command, but things got tense when Kristian Vesalainen scored his 12th goal of the season with a little under eight minutes left in the contest. Gustafsson carried the puck into the Iowa end, then curled back toward the blueline before making a great backhand pass to Vesalainen near the goal line. He swept across the crease with a burst of speed, beating Robson with a backhander for his 12th goal of the year.
With 30 seconds left in the contest, Mason Shaw was called for a questionable hooking call, moving the faceoff into the Iowa end. The Moose pulled Berdin for the extra attacker, and had two great opportunities to tie the score, but each time Robson came up with a huge save.
The first came with nine seconds left when the cross-ice pass came to Vesalainen near the right faceoff circle. He blasted the one-timer, but Robson was able to quickly slide over and make the save.
The Moose won the ensuing draw, moving behind the Iowa net. The pass came back to the point to Cameron Schilling, who blasted a shot that Robson knocked down. However, the puck was loose in front of the net. A feverish scramble ensued as the Moose were trying to knock the puck into the net while the Wild defenders were doing everything to reach it and knock it from harm.
With one second left, JC Lipon looked like he had an open net to knock the loose puck into as Robson was trapped near the left side of the goalmouth, but Josh Atkinson saved the day, sliding into the crease to knock down the puck with his chest as the buzzer sounded.
Anas finished with a goal and an assist. He leads the AHL with 69 points. The assist for Menell was hist 41st. He leads all defensemen in that category. The win was the 37th of the season for the Wild, a franchise record, as is their 82 points. Iowa still has 14 games to go.
The Wild are 2-1-1-1 through the first five games of their six-game road trip. They finish the trip in Grand Rapids Wednesday night. The puck drops at 6:00 pm CT.
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