Forward Cole Stallard records hat trick in Iowa Heartlanders’ first win of 2022-23

The Heartlanders downed the Fort Wayne Komets, 7-2, at Xtream Arena on Sunday afternoon in their seventh game of the year.


Matt Sindt

Iowa players embrace after a goal during a hockey game between the Xtream Arena in Coralville Sunday Nov. 6, 2022. (Matt Sindt/Daily Iowa) The Heartlanders beat the Komets 7-2.

Isaac Goffin, Sports Reporter

Iowa Heartlanders forward Cole Stallard’s first ECHL hat trick propelled the Heartlanders to their first win of the 2022-23 season on Sunday afternoon.

The Heartlanders downed the Fort Wayne Komets, 7-2, at Xtream Arena in their seventh game of the year.

Stallard, who hadn’t scored yet this season, tallied three goals on three shots. 

His first two goals came in the first 11 minutes of the contest. Then, the right-handed shooter gave fans permission to throw hats onto the ice at 16:59 of the second period.

“I couldn’t have done it without my other linemates, no doubt,” Stallard said. “Because they make plays out there that put me in a position to capitalize on the opportunities.”

Stallard noted he thought his mother, Donna Stallard, who died before the season started, was in the building Sunday.

“So, this one carries a lot of weight for me,” Stallard said. “No doubt about it.”

The Woodstock, Georgia, product was a part of a new line on Sunday. As a right wing, he joined left wing James Sanchez and center Tyler Busch.

“It’s three big guys that play,” Heartlanders head coach Derek Damon said. “They came out, and they gave us the boost that we needed.”

Besides Stallard, three other Heartlanders put up career days. Forwards Nick Campoli, Michael Pastujov, and Alec Broetzman each registered their first ECHL goals.

Matthew Boucher, an Iowa forward, tallied the contest’s final goal in the third period.

Heartlanders goaltender Corbin Kaczperski, who made his first appearance of 2022-23 after starting the season on injured reserve, saved 22 out of 24 shots faced and earned the win. Iowa shot at Fort Wayne goaltender Ryan Fanti 44 times.

“We just played a full 60-minute effort,” Damon said. “We didn’t deviate from our system. Played the way we have to play, which is you have to play hard, and you have to play fast, and you have to play as a team.”

Big picture

With Iowa’s victory, all ECHL clubs have won at least one contest in 2023-23 as the Heartlanders were the only franchise without a victory heading into Sunday.

In the seven-team ECHL Central Division, the Heartlanders trail the Wheeling Nailers and the Komets by two points for fifth place. The Cincinnati Cyclones lead the division with 11 points.

Busch defeats his former franchise

Busch was traded to the Heartlanders from the Komets for future considerations on Nov 2. In his second game with the Heartlanders, he notched three assists — all on Stallard’s goals.

“A little different playing against some guys that are old friends,” Busch said. “A little extra behind my effort tonight.”

Though Busch said it was nice to beat the Komets, he noted it was more important for the Heartlanders to win.

Up next

The Heartlanders will take a two-game road trip. Iowa faces the Kansas City Mavericks on Friday and the Wichita Thunder on Saturday.

Both contests are slated for a 7:05 p.m. puck drop. It’s the first time the Heartlanders will see each club in 2022-23.