Iowa Heartlanders drop final Xtream Arena game of inaugural season

The Heartlanders surrendered the first four goals to the Indy Fuel and fell, 6-2, on Saturday night.

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Ayrton Breckenridge

Iowa forward Kris Bennett maneuvers the puck during a hockey game between Iowa and Kalamazoo at Xtream Arena in Coralville on Friday, April 8, 2022. The Heartlanders defeated the Wings, 4-2.

Isaac Goffin, Sports Reporter


The Iowa Heartlanders fell, 6-2, to the Indy Fuel in their final game at Xtream Arena of the 2021-22 inaugural season.

The affair didn’t go Iowa’s way from puck drop. The Fuel recorded their first goal 93 seconds into the contest, and then another score less than six minutes later. They registered two goals in the second period before Iowa forwards Jake Smith and Kris Bennett put the Heartlanders on the board.

But just as the Heartlanders were closing the gap, the Fuel widened it, as they tallied another goal 37 seconds after Bennett scored. Indy’s final goal came on an empty net late in the third period.

“We had a little bit of pushback in the second, but just too many mistakes,” Heartlanders head coach Gerry Fleming said. “Too many turnovers. Right from the drop of the puck we were soft on plays and just too many turnovers at the end of the day. You can’t turn the puck over and expect to win. You just can’t.”

The four-goal defeat came a night after the Heartlanders downed the Kalamazoo Wings, 4-2, after sustaining a 2-0 deficit. Fleming said Friday’s game was emotional, and it’s sometimes tough to duplicate that feeling on consecutive nights.

“Your body needs a little bit of time to settle down,” Fleming said. “But that’s part of being a pro. You got to find a way to rise above those occasions and find a way to turn it on if it’s not going your way. You keep your game as simple as possible.”

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The Heartlanders dropped to 28-32-8-1 on the 2021-22 season.

The defeat gives Iowa sole possession of last place in the ECHL Central Division after falling to a division rival. Before the contest, the Heartlanders and Fuel both had 65 standings points.

The Heartlanders finish the season 15-15-5-1 at Xtream Arena, which equates to a .500 points percentage. They have three games left before their inaugural season concludes.

Goaltender switches

For the second straight day, the Heartlanders started goaltender Trevin Kozlowski. But after he surrendered his third goal in the second period, goaltender Hunter Jones replaced him on the ice.

Kozlowski saved 16 out of 19 shots, while Jones stopped 14 of 16 pucks. Fleming said both goaltenders played fine.

“The change was made to wake the guys up,” Fleming said. “I wasn’t going to leave our goaltenders out to dry there. We didn’t help them out much. They had some good looks. I just tried to change the momentum of the game.”

The Fuel made a goaltending substitution as well. They started Justin Kapelmaster in the net, but after Bennett’s goal at near the end of the second period, Mitch Gillam took his place. Kapelmaster allowed two goals on 21 shots, while Gillam saved all 21 shots he faced.

Up next 

The Heartlanders will finish the season on the road against the Allen Americans, who are in the Dallas suburbs. They will play next Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday at the Credit Union of Texas Event Center.

The Americans are members of the ECHL Mountain Division. The series marks the first time the clubs will compete against each other.

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