The Wolves entered Sunday’s game with plenty of confidence after defeating the Iowa Wild 10-2 on Saturday night, with the whole team clicking as they beat up on their division rival. Heading into Sunday’s game, the Wolves knew they would face a very different Wild team, one hungrier and more determined than the previous night.
The Wolves were not only playing for a 7-0 record Sunday, they were also looking to set a franchise record for best start to begin a season. The Wolves tied that mark on Saturday, tying the 2007-08 Wolves team that won the Calder Cup.
Sunday’s first period didn’t start as quickly for the Wolves as it did Saturday night. Both teams traded power play chances in the first three minutes of the game, with neither side able to capitalize on the other’s folly. Despite the lack of success on the man advantage, the Wolves capitalized at 5-on-5.
After working the puck around in the offensive zone, David Gust found Joey Keane at the point for a wide open chance. Keane’s shot was deflected in front of Iowa goaltender Joel Rumpel by Morgan Geekie to give the Wolves an early 1-0 lead. The goal was originally credited to Joey Keane per the AHL, but the tally was corrected later in the contest.
Morgan Geekie wasn’t done after his first tally. At the 18:02 mark on the power play, Geekie fired home an absolute rocket to give the Wolves the 2-0 lead.
Despite holding the lead, the Wolves trailed in shots on goal 8-6 as the game entered the first intermission.
Good fortunes continued for the Wolves as the second period opened. Just 58 seconds into the middle frame, Rem Pitlick tipped a Frederic Allard shot past Rumpel to extend the Wolves’ lead to three. Jeremy Davies recorded the secondary assist.
The goal was Pitlick’s sixth in as many games, tying him for the league lead in goals with teammate Seth Jarvis. After the goal however, the momentum turned in the Wild’s favor.
The remainder of the period was dominated by Iowa. Wolves’ coach Ryan Warsofsky eluded to the Wild’s dominance, noting the Wolves were “too cute” when they had opportunities to put the puck on net. That lack of pucks on net showed, as the Wild outshot the Wolves 14-3 in the middle frame.
The Wild’s dominance led to their lone goal of the contest. Mason Shaw tallied his first goal of the year on the team’s 20th shot to cut the Wolves’ lead to two.
Albeit weathering an Iowa onslaught, the Wolves escaped the period with no further damage, but trailed in shots on goal 22-9.
The final period was a tough task for the Wolves, but Beck Warm stood tall. Warm fought off 19 Wild shots to keep the score in the Wolves’ favor. Coach Warsofsky was happy with Warm’s play stating he “was great tonight, both goaltenders every night have given us the chance to win the hockey game. That’s all you can ask.”
The Wild’s dominance meant nothing on the scoreboard as Warm held the Wild scoreless in the final frame. Tanner Jeannot added an empty net goal with three seconds left to cement the victory, securing the franchise’s best start in team history with the 4-1 win over the visiting Wild.
Sunday’s game was possibly more wild than Saturday’s game. Saturday was a team masterpiece for the Wolves, as they scored 10 goals and defeated their opponent by eight. However, Sunday flipped the script as the Wild came out swinging after being embarrassed on Saturday. That said, it really didn’t matter, as the Wolves capitalized on their 14 shots by burying four of them.
Beck Warm was Sunday’s unsung hero, stopping 40 of 41 Iowa shots. He made save after save, keeping his team in it after the Wild dominated play in the second and third period. In those periods alone, Warm stopped 32 of 33 shots.
Another pleasant surprise was Morgan Geekie. Although majority of the offense failed to get going as easily as they did Saturday, Geekie wasted no time scoring his third and fourth goals in just his second AHL contest this season. It’s uncertain if Geekie will remain with the Wolves much longer. If he continues to play at this pace, the Carolina Hurricanes will have no choice but to bring him back to the NHL.
The Wolves return to action on Friday, February 26 at 6:00 PM CST when they travel to Grand Rapids to face the Griffins. The Wolves defeated the Griffins 3-1 and 4-2 in the two contests between the clubs this season. The Wolves look to keep their unbeaten streak going on Friday night.