Iowa Heartlanders prepped for three-game road trip

The Heartlanders will play three consecutive games in the eastern time zone this week.


Gabby Drees

Toledo Walleye players surround forward Zach Remers during a hockey game between the Iowa Heartlanders and Toledo Walleye at the Xtream Arena in Coralville, Iowa on Friday, Oct. 29, 2021. Iowa Heartlanders lost to the Toledo Walleye 10-1.

Isaac Goffin, Sports Reporter

Though they haven’t been around long, last week was undoubtedly the worst string of games the Iowa Heartlanders have endured.

The Heartlanders were outscored, 19-6, in three games — all of which were played at Xtream Arena in Coralville.

Just days after their tough homestand, the Heartlanders will hit the road for three consecutive away games.

Iowa will face the Cincinnati Cyclones on Thursday and Saturday. Both of the Heartlanders’ matchups with the Cyclones will be at 6:35 p.m.

Iowa will also take on the Indy Fuel at 6 p.m. Friday.

“I think it’s been a really good week of practice so far,” Heartlanders assistant coach Derek Damon said. “We’ve had a really good push from the guys working on our systems, continue to get better at our systems, and more dialed into that.”

The Heartlanders will go on their first-ever multi-game road trip this week with a roster that endured several changes in the last few days.

Four of the Heartlanders’ players were called up to the Iowa Wild last week. One of those players, goaltender Trevin Kozlowski, has since been reassigned back to the Heartlanders. Kozlowski began to practice with the Heartlanders again on Tuesday.

The Heartlanders also added three new skaters to their roster: Forwards Zach Remers and Cole Golka and defenseman Kyle Thacker.

RELATED: Iowa Heartlanders drop third straight game

“I think the connection that we have here is a major key on the ice,” defenseman Jeff Solow said of the Heartlanders’ team chemistry. “I mean, if you have a good team connection, you’re going to play more connected on the ice, off the ice. If you have a good connection, it all translates.”

The Heartlanders are currently 1-3-1 on the 2021-22 season. Though, they haven’t looked entirely inept this year.

Iowa forward Jack Billings has been solid on the ice throughout 2021-22. Billings has recorded six total points — good for 10th in the ECHL as of Wednesday. Billings ranks second among ECHL rookies in points.

Billings and the Heartlanders’ upcoming road trip certainly won’t feel like a vacation. The Heartlanders will make their entire trip by bus.

At a Heartlanders media availability session on Tuesday, Remers said he likes to take long naps and watch HBO and Netflix to get through bus rides. Remers is particularly attached to HBO’s “Game of Thrones.”

The 25-year-old also has a specific snack he likes to consume.

“A big mountain trail mix guy, actually,” Remers said. “Love the peanuts, M&M’s, just a great mix. Can’t beat it.”

Damon said rest will be important for the Heartlanders this week. The 40-year-old has experienced long ECHL bus trips under Heartlanders head coach Gerry Fleming before. Damon played with the Florida Everblades from 2006-08 when Fleming was their head coach.

“We can get out on the road, and we can really be together and continue to bond together,” Damon said. “Just clear your mind and focus on the job in front of you, which is Thursday night. Take it one game at a time and one period at a time.”