Iowa Heartlanders conclude inaugural season on the road

The Heartlanders went 1-1-1 against the Allen Americans in the final series of the 2021-22 season.


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

In the final series of their inaugural season, the Iowa Heartlanders earned three standings points at the Allen Americans over three games.

The Heartlanders won 5-1, on Wednesday and fell, 3-2, in overtime on Friday. In the final game of the season on Saturday, Iowa was trounced, 6-3, inside the Credit Union of Texas Event Center.

The Americans struck in the first five minutes of Wednesday’s affair, but the Heartlanders controlled the contest from there. Iowa forward Zach White tied the game in the first period, and then Iowa found the net back of the time four times in the middle frame, where White scored another goal.

Forwards Ben Sokay, Luke Nogard, and Jake Smith also tallied goals for the Heartlanders in the second period. Goaltender Hunter Jones faced just 17 shots on Wednesday night.

Allen tallied the first goal in the first period on Friday. The Americans maintained their 1-0 lead until the third period, when Smith recorded the equalizer. Nogard also scored in the third period for the Heartlanders to take the lead, but the Americans tied the game again with five minutes left in regulation. The Americans notched the game-winning goal almost two minutes into the overtime period.

Iowa struggled in the first period on Saturday as Allen put up the first two goals. But Heartlanders forward Ryan Kuffner scored on a five-minute power play before the opening frame expired.

The Americans put the contest under wraps as they scored three goals in the second period and one in the third. Iowa forwards Bryce Misley and Kaid Oliver tallied power play goals in the final frame of the Heartlanders inaugural season.

Big picture

The Heartlanders conclude their inaugural season at 29-33-9-1, giving them 68 standings points and a .472 points percentage. The 68 points puts them in last place in the ECHL Central Division as the one club that didn’t end the season above .500.

Iowa finished five points behind the sixth-place Indy Fuel and 44 points back of the division-leading Toledo Walleye.

Bennett tied for league goals

Iowa forward Kris Bennett recorded 35 goals in his first season in the ECHL, tied for the league lead.

Bennett had sole possession of the goal lead ahead of Saturday’s contest, but Walleye forward Brandon Hawkins scored twice to die the Heartlanders rookie.

Barring an unexpected performance in the ECHL’s final two 2021-22 regular season games on Sunday, Bennett will remain tied for most goals, and he should top rookies with 73 points.

The recipient of the John A. Daley Memorial Trophy, awarded to the ECHL Rookie of the Year, will be announced Monday.

Up next

The Heartlanders will conduct exit interviews on Monday and Tuesday before the players leave for the offseason.

The 2022-23 season is slated to begin in October at Xtream Arena.

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