The last time the Wild played a winner-take-all playoff game was on April 30, 2014, when Nino Niederreiter’s snipe 5 minutes, 2 seconds into overtime gave Minnesota a 5-4 victory over the Colorado Avalanche in a magnificent Game 7 in Denver. Since then, the Wild is 1-5 in playoff series, with none going the distance.
On Monday, a Wild team will be in a winner-take-all scenario – the Iowa Wild, which faces the Milwaukee Admirals on the road in Game 5 of the American Hockey League’s Central Division semifinals.
Yeah, it’s not the real thing like the NHL playoffs, but it’s all we have left after Minnesota’s big club hit the links and/or beaches in early April. And if you’re a hockey hard-core, you can watch Game 5 on www.watchtheahl.com/#/. It’s $7.99 for a daily pass or $24.99 for a playoff all-access pass.
Of interest on the Iowa Wild are a trio of players who were sent to the AHL club after Minnesota’s season ended. Luke Kunin, Ryan Donato and Jordan Greenway helped the Iowa Wild qualify for the playoffs for the first time, and they’ve made an impact in the postseason.
The Iowa club started the playoffs with 7-0 and 6-1 home wins over Milwaukee on April 21 and 23 as Kunin had three goals and an assist, Donato contributed four assists and Greenway had two helpers. The Admirals struck back with a 3-1 win on Thursday and a 5-4 overtime triumph on Friday to knot the series. During those losses, Kunin and Greenway had one assist apiece, while Donato was held off the scoresheet.
Kunin’s five points are tied for the team playoff lead with Gerald Mayhew, Cal O’Reilly and Matt Read, while Donato and Kyle Rau (3-1-4) each have four points.
Goalie Andrew Hammond has handled all the playoff duties, amassing a 2.15 goals-against average and .922 save percentage.
A victory on Monday would advance Iowa to the Central Division finals against the Chicago Wolves, the AHL affiliate of the Vegas Golden Knights. Chicago eliminated the Grand Rapids Griffins in five games.