Iowa Heartlanders forward Jake Smith named ECHL Player of the Week

Jake Smith earned the recognition because he scored four goals and tallied two assists over three games last week.


Jason Rubin

Contributed photo of Jake Smith.

Isaac Goffin, Sports Reporter

Jake Smith made Iowa Heartlanders history when he was named the Inglasco ECHL Player of the Week on Wednesday. 

The forward is the first player in the short history of the Heartlanders franchise to earn the honor.

Smith garnered recognition for his efforts on the ice from Jan. 10-16. During that time, Smith played three games, scored four goals, and tallied two assists.

“It’s pretty cool,” Smith told The Daily Iowan before the ECHL officially recognized his accomplishment. “It’s something, at the start of the year, I didn’t expect anything like that to happen.” 

After he made his initial comments, Smith noted that he still has an eye on what lies ahead of him.

In the immediate future, Smith and the 12-17-5-1 Heartlanders face another road trip. Iowa will take on the ECHL Central Division-leading Toledo Walleye Friday and the Wheeling Nailers Saturday and Sunday.

RELATED: Iowa Heartlanders wrap up three-game weekend

Smith didn’t start this season with the Heartlanders. Rather, the right-handed shooter signed a training camp contract with Kansas City in October.

Smith played five games for the Mavericks and recorded zero points. He then spent a short time on injured reserve. 

On Dec. 6, he was released by Kansas City. The next day, Iowa submitted a waiver claim for Smith. He was added to the Heartlanders’ roster Dec. 8. 

In 15 games with Iowa, Smith has registered nine goals and seven assists. His most impressive performance came Jan. 9 against the Rapid City Rush in South Dakota. Smith posted the first hat trick in Heartlanders history that day

“It’s a good group of guys,” Smith said of what fuels his success. “We have great coaches that work with you. We got an unbelievable video coach (Amir Gulati). He’s there 24/7. He’s been able to help you with a lot of stuff.” 

Last season, Smith competed in 27 games with the Birmingham Bulls of the Southern Professional Hockey League, tallying 11 goals and 14 assists. 

Smith said 90 to 95 percent of that season’s Bulls roster has been in the ECHL this season. Smith attributes some of the success he’s had with the Heartlanders to his time in the SPHL.

Smith’s Heartlanders have earned eight points in their last six games. Yet, Iowa still sits in last place in its division with 30 points. The Fuel are just ahead of the Heartlanders with 32 points.

All ECHL clubs were on break from Tuesday to Thursday because of the ECHL All-Star Game.

“Guys are just trying to rest up,” Smith said. “We got a big weekend ahead with Toledo and Wheeling. Those are six points, and we’re going to try to get four out of the six again, which will allow us to move up in the standings.”

Iowa has won its last two games against Toledo. The Heartlanders are 0-3 against Wheeling this season.

Friday’s Heartlanders-Walleye matchup will begin at 6:15 p.m. Saturday and Sunday’s Iowa-Wheeling games will start at 6:10 p.m. and 3:10 p.m. respectively.

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