Iowa Heartlanders emphasize fast starts ahead of three-game road trip

The Heartlanders will play three teams in four days this week.


Gabby Drees

Iowa defenseman Carter Shinkaruk defends during a hockey game between the Iowa Heartlanders and Kalamazoo Wings at Xtream Arena in Coralville, Iowa on Friday, Dec. 28, 2022. The Wings defeated the Heartlanders 5-2.

Isaac Goffin, Sports Reporter

The Iowa Heartlanders know that a fast start will give them a chance to win any game.

The Heartlanders are 10-1-2-0 in games they’ve led at the end of the first period. Iowa has gone 11-0-1-0 in games it leads at the end of the second period.

The Heartlanders are 2-11-2-0 in contests they trail after period one. Iowa has gone 2-15-1-1 when it trails at the end of the second period.

As the 15-20-5-1 Heartlanders prepare to collide with the 22-16-1-0 Cincinnati Cyclones on Wednesday, the 26-9-0-2 Toledo Walleye on Friday, and the 20-17-1-0 Wheeling Nailers on Saturday, they’re focused in bursting out the gates in each matchup.

“We’re going to go out there and prepare as much as we can and have the mindset that we’re going to come out on top of the first period and keep rolling into the second and third period,” defenseman Carter Shinkaruk told The Daily Iowan via phone Tuesday.

While a stretch of three road games in four nights is daunting, the Heartlanders are prepared for the challenge.

“I think if you ask any of the boys on our team, we’re prepared to play any team, anytime, anyplace,” Shinkaruk said. “So, definitely nice to be at home or at least one location for three games in a row, but these were the cards that we were dealt. So, we’re not going to use it as an excuse, and we’re prepared to win all three.”

Shinkaruk believes getting pucks in deep and focusing on forechecks could be keys to success for the Heartlanders this week

“I think that’s one thing, when we’re forechecking well and finishing checks, we’re at our best,” Shinkaruk said.

Shinkaruk began the 2021-22 season with the Quad City Storm in the Southern Professional Hockey League. The right-handed forward realized the Storm had enough forwards but were short on defensemen.

So, Shinkaruk switched from forward — the position he played since starting hockey — to the back line.

“Making the transition has been a fun challenge that I’ve enjoyed quite a bit,” Shinkaruk said. “It keeps it fun and interesting. My background when I was playing forward was at the center position, so I think being responsible defensively is something that’s required as a center, so it made the transition a little bit better.”

Shinkaruk has signed with the Heartlanders three times throughout the course of the 2021-22 season.

RELATED: Iowa Heartlanders fall to Kalamazoo Wings, 3-2

The 30-year-old first signed with Iowa on Dec. 8 and was released the following day. He re-signed with the Heartlanders following their Dec. 10 contest and played Dec. 11. Shinkaruk was released again on Dec. 12.

Shinkaruk signed with the Heartlanders for the third time on Dec. 26 and has since competed with the club. He’s recorded one goal and seven assists in 19 games as a Heartlander.

Shinkaruk also competed in the ECHL in the 2015-16 season, when he competed with the Idaho Steelheads for three games.

Puck drop for the Heartlanders will be 6:35 p.m. on Wednesday, 6:15 p.m. on Friday, and 6:10 p.m. on Saturday.

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