CEDAR PARK, Texas – It appears that all Iowa Wild goaltender Hunter Jones needed was a couple of days off. After allowing four goals or more in seven of his first nine professional starts, Jones reeled off the best outing of his career, stopping 35 of 36 shots to lead Iowa to a 2-1 victory over the Texas Stars on Wednesday evening. This came after the Wild netminder was given a couple of games off.
Jones was put to the test right away, as Iowa was outshot 19-2 in the first period. Texas peppered the young goaltender, but Jones was outstanding,
His biggest test came at 9:21 with Texas on the power-play. Nikita Scherbak moved in from the point just outside the right face-off circle, blasting a slapshot that Jones saved. The rebound deflected to the opposite side, where Ryan Shea blasted a one-timer. However, the Iowa goaltender quickly slid over, positioning himself to make a chest save to deny the opportunity.
The Stars took 11 of the first 12 shots on net, but it would be the Wild who would get the lead 10:50 into the contest, scoring just four seconds after going on the power-play. Gabriel Dumont won the draw back to Calen Addison who dished the puck across the blueline to Louie Belpedio. The Wild defenseman blasted a one-timer by Texas goaltender Tomas Sholl for his first goal of the year.
In the second, Iowa began to control the play, outshooting the Stars 12-6. Neither team could get one past either Sholl or Jones, as both netminders played exceptionally well between the pipes.
In the third, Gerry Mayhew added a goal that proved to be huge for Iowa. At 1:26, a fortunate break helped to set up the goal. Mayhew was headed toward the bench looking to make a line change, but Ryan O’Rourke intercepted a pass attempt by the Stars in the neutral zone, leading Mayhew to remain on the ice. O’Rourke passed the puck to Dumont who fed it to Mayhew just after he crossed into the Texas zone. The Wild forward moved down the slot, firing a wrist shot to the far corner that Sholl was unable to get his leg pad in front of, giving Mayhew his fifth goal since returning to Iowa from Minnesota.
By the way Jones was playing, that two-goal lead seemed insurmountable. However, the Stars would cut the deficit in half when Adam Mascherin scored his 11th goal of the season just before the nine-minute mark. The Stars forecheck was able to keep the puck inside the Iowa zone. Nick Baptiste fired a puck from behind the net up the boards to Thomas Harley who fired a shot from the point. Mascherin redirected the attempt over the shoulder of Jones to pull Texas within one.
In the final minutes, Texas pulled their goaltender. They wound up with the draw deep inside the Iowa zone with 20 seconds left. The Stars won the draw, moving it around the boards until it came back onto the stick of Mascherin, who fired a shot from just inside the left face-off circle. Jones made a great save, but the rebound was loose. Seconds later, a shot was deflected back toward Mascherin, but Jones was once again able to make a great pad save as time expired, preserving the 2-1 victory.
Jones saved 35 to 36 shots. He was the opening-night starter against Texas, giving up seven goals on 44 shots, but the Stars had no answers for the Iowa netminder on this night. Jones moved to 2-7-1 with the victory. Dumont recorded two assists to lead the Iowa offense. Sholl stopped 21 shots for Texas.
Things will be back at it again on Friday at the H-E-B Center in Cedar Park, TX. The puck drops at 7 PM.
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