Advancing to the postseason may not be the only first the Wild’s minor-league team accomplishes this spring.
Iowa is just one win away from moving on to the second round of the Calder Cup Playoffs after overwhelming the Milwaukee Admirals 6-1 Tuesday in Des Moines to jump out to a 2-0 lead in the best-of-five series.
This was the second straight rout by Iowa, as it opened the matchup Sunday by blanking Milwaukee 7-0 – a terrific debut for the franchise barely a week after it clinched its first playoff berth.
Goalie Andrew Hammond, who was a stellar 3-0 in the final games of the regular season to help extend Iowa’s campaign, made 29 saves for back-to-back shutouts.
In front of him, 14 different players tallied at least a point and seven had two-point efforts – including winger Kyle Rau, who scored twice.
Seven players also posted their first career Calder Cup Playoff points, and that group featured the three forwards who joined Iowa after the Wild’s season ended.
And after combining for a goal and three assists Sunday, the trio of Jordan Greenway, Luke Kunin and Ryan Donato was even more productive Tuesday when Iowa seized control of the series.
Kunin opened the scoring in the first period, a shot set up by Donato, before Iowa broke a 1-1 tie late in the second after winger Matt Read buried a rebound off a Donato shot on the power play.
In the third, Iowa scored four more to seal the victory – an outburst that began when Greenway and Donato assisted on Kunin’s second goal of the game.
Overall, the three totaled six points to continue their strong play after their late-season addition to Iowa.
But the youngsters haven’t been the only ones to shine.
These wins have reflected a well-rounded execution by the entire lineup. The veterans chipped in, Hammond has been almost unbeatable (62 saves on 63 shots) and special-teams play was steady since the power play contributed twice and the penalty kill went a spotless 7-for-7.
What’s also made these performances more impressive is they’ve come against a tough opponent.
Before the playoffs started, Milwaukee rattled off a 14-game point streak to finish ahead of Iowa in the Central Division standings for the American Hockey League.
Not only has Iowa snapped that prowess, but it’s done so in decisive fashion – perhaps a sign of it starting its own memorable run.
Game 3 is Thursday at 7 p.m. in Milwaukee.