Forward Cole Golka’s two-goal night helps Iowa Heartlanders pick up 5-3 win

The Heartlanders took down the Indy Fuel at Xtream Arena in Coralville Wednesday evening.


Gabby Drees

Forward Cole Golka reacts after losing a hockey game between the Iowa Heartlanders and the Wheeling Nailers at the Xtream Arena in Coralville, Iowa on Wednesday, Oct. 27, 2021. The Wheeling Nailers defeated the Heartlanders 4-3.

Isaac Goffin, Sports Reporter

Cole Golka scored two goals in a 23-second span Wednesday night at Xtream Arena. Postgame, the Iowa Heartlanders’ forward said he probably hasn’t scored back-to-back goals that quickly at any point during his career.

Golka’s pair of goals helped the Heartlanders down the Indy Fuel, 5-3.

Golka has now scored two goals in one game on multiple occasions this season. The 27-year-old put the puck in the back of the net twice against the Toledo Walleye on Oct. 30.

Forwards Zach White, Jack Billings, and Cole Stallard were the other Heartlanders that scored Wednesday night. White, Billings, and Stallard scored in the first, second, and third periods, respectively.

“I thought we were opportunistic tonight,” Heartlanders head coach Gerry Fleming said. “We played well at stretches in the game. I thought when we do the things we talk about all the time, we get pucks in deep because we’re a strong forechecking team. That’s our bread and butter, and when we do that consistently, we give ourselves opportunity to create offense.”

Even with a divisional win now in his pocket, Fleming said his team still has some things to improve upon going forward.

“We have to clean up in the D zone,” Fleming said. “Like everybody talks about a good first pass and the importance and the ability to break out the puck cleanly to get through the neutral zone as quickly as you can and establish a forecheck is paramount for our game. If we do that consistently for 60 minutes every night, we will give ourselves a chance to win every night.”

Big picture

The 15-18-5-1 Heartlanders earned a crucial divisional victory against the Fuel Wednesday. Indy came into the matchup hot, having won eight of its last 10 games.

The Heartlanders’ win over the Fuel boosted their standings points total to 36. That’s not good enough for a playoff spot, but 33 games still remain on Iowa’s schedule.

To make the playoffs, the Heartlanders need to finish in the ECHL Central Division’s top four. Currently, Iowa is in last place in the central division.

Playoff spots are based on points percentage. Iowa’s points percentage after Wednesday’s game is 0.462. The Kalamazoo Wings boast a .543 points percentage, which is good for fourth in the central division and a playoff spot.

Power play problems

Iowa founds itself on the power play twice Wednesday but came up empty-handed both times. The Heartlanders scored all five of their goals without a numbers advantage Wednesday.

“We were too complacent on the power play,” Fleming said. “Our power play’s been good, and it’s won us some games here over the course of the last five or six games. We’ve been operating at I think 20 percent. Tonight, we had an off night, so we got to get back to what we have been doing.”

Up next

The Heartlanders will continue their homestand Friday and Saturday against the 19-16 Wings. Both of this weekend’s Iowa-Kalamazoo matchups will begin at 7 p.m.

The last time the Heartlanders and Wings got together, Kalamazoo escaped Xtream Arena with a 3-2 overtime win on Nov. 14.

Kalamazoo enters Friday’s contest on the winds of a four-game losing streak — though the Wings haven’t played since Jan. 23.

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