CORALVILLE, IA – It took six games, but the Iowa Heartlanders finally got a huge monkey off their backs, defeating the Toledo Walleye in a shootout on Friday, 3-2. After dropping the first five games to Toledo by a combined score of 30-6, Iowa finally broke the spell, thanks in large part to Trevin Kozlowski, who stopped 33 out of 35 shots and all three attempts he faced in the shootout.
Iowa took the lead 3:51 into the contest. A great forecheck by the Heartlanders created a turnover inside the Toledo end. Kaid Oliver carried the puck into the corner before making a backhand pass across the slot to Billy Constantinou. The defenseman fired a shot that was knocked down in front, but the puck was loose in the crease area. Cole Stallard sped in, knocking in the loose puck for his second goal of the season.
It was “Teddy Bear Toss Night” in Coralville, so the early tally led to a shower of stuffed animals onto the ice. Thousands of bears made their way onto the surface.
Iowa held the one-goal advantage into the first intermission, but it would be Toledo that would dominate the second period. John Albert tied the score at 4:35 with his 10th goal of the season. Cole Fraser wristed a shot from the point that was saved by Kozlowski, but Albert picked up the loose puck in front of the net, putting it in to tie the score at one.
With a little under two minutes left in the second period, the Walleye took the lead. With Toledo on the power-play, the Heartlanders cleared the puck out of their end, but Marcus Vela gain control in the neutral zone, passing it to T.J. Hensick, who was standing just outside the Iowa blueline. Hensick carried the puck into the Heartlanders end before dishing it to Mitchell Heard who was moving down the slot. Heard fired a wrist shot that beat Kozlowski to the far post for his first goal of the year.
It looked like Iowa was destined for another heartbreaking loss, but Zach White tied the score 4:39 into the third period. Yuri Miura gained control of the puck behind the Walleye net, then moved down in front before passing it to White who was just inside the right face-off circle. White blasted a one-timer by Toledo netminder Billy Christopoulos, tying the score at two.
The score remained tied to through regulation, sending the contest to an extra session. Neither team was able to close out the contest, sending the Walleye to their first shootout of the season. Both teams failed to capitalize in the first two rounds, but Joe Widmar brought the crowd to their feet, slowly moving in on Christopoulos before firing a wrist shot over his left shoulder to win it for the Heartlanders. That gave Iowa (6-12-3) their first shootout victory of the season. Toledo (13-5-1) remains atop the Central Division.
These same two teams will close out their three-game series on Saturday. The puck drops at 7 p.m.
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