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Hogs Grimaldi vs Iowa 4 19 23 Field Pass Hockey

2023 Calder Cup Playoffs

Grimaldi Leads Rockford Past Wild In Overtime

Rocco Grimaldi made Rockford a Game 1 winner over Iowa with his overtime goal. (Photo by Brad Repplinger/Rockford IceHogs)

Grimaldi Leads Rockford Past Wild In Overtime

Rockford, Ill.-Before the Rockford IceHogs and Iowa Wild faced off Wednesday night at the BMO Center, Abby Grimaldi, wife of IceHogs forward Rocco Grimaldi, got the game started with her singing of the National Anthem.

Sixty-four minutes of hockey later, her husband ended it.

Grimaldi’s interception of a clearing pass led to an IceHogs victory in the opening game of the Central Division first-round series. Rockford prevailed 3-2 over the Wild to claim a 1-0 series lead.

“It was just getting off on a change,” Grimaldi explained to IceHogs rink-side reporter Katie Florio following the game. “They tried to make a soft pass up the boards. I was able to knock it down and walk it in, and thankfully, it went in.”

Rockford fell behind 1-0 after Mitchell Balmas scored for the Wild 3:26 into the contest, jumping on a rebound of a Dakota Mermis shot that beat Hogs goalie Arvid Soderblom and struck the crossbar. Soderblom lost track of the puck, which Balmas sent to the back of the net from the left post.

Rockford’s answer came swiftly, with David Gust sniping a shot past Iowa netminder Jesper Wallstedt just 18 seconds later to tie the game. The Hogs took a 2-1 lead into the locker room after an outstanding bit of maneuvering by defenseman Issak Phillips. Phillips patiently skated toward the left dot before finding Brett Seney at the right post at the 17:55 mark.

Iowa knotted the game at two goals early in the middle frame, when Nic Petan found Steven Fogarty in the slot for a power-play goal at 4:14 of the second period. At that point, the goalies took over. Wallstedt stopped several Hogs chances, including a point-blank one-timer from the stick of Grimaldi late in the second period. Soderblom held firm in the third period as the Wild sent 14 shots his way.

Grimaldi’s game-winner snapped nearly 40 minutes of scoreless hockey between the two Central Division rivals. It came as Petan was attempting to clear the puck up the half boards in the Wild zone. Grimaldi got his stick on the pass and beat Petan to the loose puck. The veteran forward made a beeline for the right dot and fired past Wallstedt 3:59 into the extra session.

The series now shifts to Iowa’s Wells Fargo Arena for Game 2 of the series. Grimaldi expects another tough game with the Wild in Des Moines.

“They’re an even better team at home,” Grimaldi said. “They’ve got home-ice advantage for a reason; they’re a really good team. I know they’re going to be even hungrier on home ice, so we have to have a good start, play really well just like we did today, have [Soderblom] ticking like he was, and hopefully get a win.”

Game 1 Notes

  • Soderblom made 29 saves on the night, one more than his Iowa counterpart. Wild coach Tim Army will now have to decide whether to keep Wallstedt in goal for Friday’s Game 2 in DesMoines, or go with Zane McIntyre, maintaining the tandem effort in net that Iowa has faithfully employed throughout the regular season.
  • Seney and Gust each had a goal and an assist on the evening. They were behind Grimaldi as the game’s second and third stars, respectively.
  • Despite physical action at both ends of the ice, Game 1 was light on penalties. Iowa scored on its only power-play of the night, while Rockford was unable to score on either of its two chances on the man advantage.
  • This was the eighth time the Hogs and Wild have needed overtime to decide a winning in 13 meetings this season.
  • Rookie Sammy Walker, who led Iowa with 27 goals this season, was recalled to the Minnesota Wild on Wednesday morning and was not in the lineup against Rockford.

Puck drop for Friday’s Game 2 in Des Moines is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. CDT.


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    Jon Fromi covers the Rockford IceHogs for Field Pass Hockey. Follow and interact with him on Twitter @FPHIceHogs.

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