Sokay strikes twice in Iowa Heartlanders’ loss to Kansas City Mavericks

The forward scored two goals Sunday afternoon at Xtream Arena in Coralville.


Gabby Drees

Heartlander forward Ben Sokay moves the puck at a hockey game between the Iowa Heartlanders and Toledo Walleye at Xtream Arena in Coralville, Iowa, on Wednesday, Dec. 8, 2021. The Walleye defeated the Heartlanders 4-0.

Isaac Goffin, Sports Reporter

Forward Ben Sokay scored two goals in the Iowa Heartlanders’ 6-5 overtime loss to the Kansas City Mavericks Sunday night at Xtream Arena in Coralville. Sokay said postgame that there wasn’t a secret formula that led to his performance. Rather, he was just in the right place at the right time.

Sokay’s most pivotal score came with just 87 seconds remaining in regulation. The goal tied the game, 5-5, to force overtime.

Kansas City’s Darik Angeli scored on a power play with four minutes and 17 seconds on the clock in overtime. The goal was the deciding score in the 6-5 game.

“I mean, anytime you score two goals, it feels good,” Sokay said. “But obviously it would have been a little sweeter if we could have finished it off in the end.”

With a 4-2 lead at the beginning of the third period, Iowa was in position to win. But the Mavericks raced back, scoring three goals in the first nine minutes of third frame to take a 5-4 lead.

The Heartlanders’ starting goalkeeper, Trevin Kozlowski, played most of the first two periods Sunday. He was unavailable in the third period.

After the under-14 media timeout in the second period, Kozlowski removed himself from the game because he was not feeling well. Kozlowski tested negative for COVID-19 on Sunday, per Iowa head coach Gerry Fleming.

Jack Berry was inserted into the game in place of Kozlowski. Berry managed to stop 21 of the 25 shots he faced. Kozlowski had turned away 17 of the 19 shots Kansas City threw at him.

“I don’t think that had an outcome on the game,” Fleming said of the Heartlanders’ changes at goaltender. “What I’ll tell you did have an outcome on the game is us trying to get too cute in the neutral zone. Trying to do things we got away from. We preached about chipping pucks, getting pucks in deep, supporting the puck, overloading one side. We did that well for the first 12 minutes of that game, and then we got away from it, and as a result, we started turning pucks over.”


The 8-13-3-1 Heartlanders earned their 20th point of the 2021-22 season following their overtime loss Sunday.

The Indy Fuel dropped its most recent game to the Fort Wayne Komets. The Fuel’s loss propelled the Heartlanders out of the last place in the ECHL Central Division standings.


Before the contest, the ECHL released its daily transactions report. Three Hearlanders were added to the Commissioner’s Exempt List: Zach Remers, Ryan Kuffner, and Billy Constantinou.

Players on the Commissioner’s Exempt List are ineligible to compete because of ECHL COVID-19 protocols.

Iowa’s Bryce Misley was placed on the list Dec. 18. He’s remained there ever since.

Fleming missed three games from Dec. 8-11 after testing positive for the virus.

The National Hockey League (NHL) paused its league play from Dec. 22-28 because of COVID-19.

There has been no reported indication that the ECHL will take a similar step — though the league has had to postpone some of its games because of COVID-19.


The Heartlanders will not have much time to dwell on their Sunday loss, as they’ll be taking on the 11-13-1 Mavericks again on Monday at 7 p.m. at Xtream Arena.

“We can bounce back,” Fleming said. “We’ll clean up some things from [Sunday] that we did well, and again, a more consistent 60-minute effort. We just got to come in and be ready to outwork them.”

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