Iowa Heartlanders notebook | Franchise establishing identity in training camp

Iowa head coach Derek Damon said the Heartlanders will work to be the hardest-working team on the ice every night.


Isabella Cervantes

The Heartlanders held a practice at Xtream Arena in Coralville on Monday, Oct. 10, 2022.

Isaac Goffin, Sports Reporter

The Iowa Heartlanders are establishing their identity for the 2022-23 season in the first week of training camp.

Heartlanders head coach Derek Damon said after the second day of camp on Monday the club strives to be the hardest-working team on the ice every night. He said the Heartlanders must be in good shape and skate well if they want to achieve that identity. 

“That’s the way the game is played nowadays,” Damon said. 

Iowa adjusted its inaugural season roster after finishing the 2021-22 season at last place in the ECHL Central Division with a 29-33-9-1 record. Iowa has 10 players on their training camp roster that previously competed in a Heartlanders game. There are 17 skaters and one goaltender who are new to the franchise. 

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Goaltender Corbin Kaczperski, who led the Heartlanders with a .921 save percentage in 2021-22, said the franchise feels stronger and faster.

“I know it’s two days in, and who knows, but it’s not even close,” Kaczperski said. “I think the depth is a lot deeper this year, and I think we’re going to be good.” 

Forward Guus van Nes is one of the skaters the Heartlanders signed over the offseason to assist with depth. The 6-foot-3 winger came to Iowa after competing at Quinnipiac University. In 93 college contests, the left-handed shooter recorded 10 goals and 27 assists. 

Van Nes said he joined the Heartlanders after talking to the coaching staff. 

“They want to play hard. They want to work hard, and I think that’s something my game emulates,” Van Nes said.  I think that’s one of the main reasons why it’s a good fit. I like the hard work. I like to get down to the nitty gritty. So, I think that’s what made it appealing.” 

Wednesday’s public scrimmage 

Iowa will make its first public appearance for the 2022-23 season during a scrimmage on Wednesday at 6:05 p.m. in Xtream Arena.  

Damon said the Heartlanders will play two, 25-minute stop periods, with a possible surprise at the end. Players will dress in their practice sweaters. 

“I think it’s going to be an intense game on Wednesday night because cut down is going to be Thursday, so it’s the last chance for guys to show they want a job,” Damon said. “I think we’ll see everybody’s best.” 

The Heartlanders are required to submit their season-opening roster to the league office by Oct. 19, which must include two goaltenders and up to 19 skaters. Iowa opens its campaign Oct. 21 against the Idaho Steelheads in Coralville. 

Goaltending update 

Besides Kaczperski, Hunter Jones and Cody Karpinski are the other two goaltenders on the training camp roster. 

Jones spent time with the Heartlanders last season and notched a .878 save percentage in 22 games. He’s on a contract with the Minnesota Wild, who picked him in the second round of the 2019 NHL Entry Draft. 

“Jones has looked really good,” Damon said. “I’ve seen Jones for a month now. I was up in Minnesota’s rookie camp and American Hockey League camp and Jones looked good in both. He’s come in. He’s looking sharp. He’s dialed in. Corbin, we just saw yesterday, and so he’s working his way into camp.” 

Karpinski is on a tryout deal after spending 2021-22 in the Southern Professional Hockey League with the Pensacola Ice Flyers. 

Damon said goaltender C.J. Motte, who’s on an AHL contract with the Iowa Wild, should be assigned to the Heartlanders in the next couple days.