116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CORALVILLE — You take the positive out of the negative, and the positive Sunday afternoon for the Iowa Heartlanders was shots.
There were lots of them: a season-high 45, to be exact.
Of course, the negative was that only one of them went into the net. But you figure you generate that kind of number, eventually you’re going to win hockey games.
“I think it’s a good step,” said Heartlanders defenseman Bo Hanson, after his team’s 5-1 loss to the Toledo Walleye at Xtream Arena. “Our focus was to try and get a lot of shots and get bodies to the net. Credit to their goalie (John Lethemon). He stood on his head at some points. I think that’s just the next step that we need to take as a hockey team and as players. We’ve got to get to the hard areas, got to find ways to score. We’ll work on that in practice, for sure.”
Hanson had Iowa’s lone goal, his first as a professional. Another positive.
That it was half the total the Heartlanders had this weekend was another negative. Iowa lost this three-in-three set by a combined score of 16-2 (6-1, 5-0 and 5-1).
Toledo has some dudes, including Detroit Red Wings draft picks Sebastian Cossa and Kirill Tyutyayev. A goaltender who was Detroit’s first-round choice in 2021 (15th overall), Cossa had Saturday night’s shutout.
A winger, Tyutyayev had a pair of assists Sunday. Conlan Keenan picked up a hat trick for the Walleye.
“That was a tough three-game series,” said Heartlanders Coach Derek Damon. “They’re obviously a championship-level team in our league. They’ve got some elite-level players for our league ... They’ve got high-end talent, and you saw their ability to close time and space. And when they get chances, they finish.”
The Heartlanders (7-20-8-1, 23 standings points) are last in the ECHL’s Central Division but they’ve played competitive hockey, the victim of a ton of close losses. They had seven players out of the lineup Sunday with injuries, which contributed to this weekend massacre.
Another negative. But another positive was the addition Sunday of Mitchell Balmas from the American Hockey League’s Iowa Wild, a guy who should boost the offense and who will play lots of minutes up front.
Balmas began the season with the Heartlanders before being promoted.
“I thought we played a real good game,” he said. “I thought the game was right there. Obviously the score was a bit different at the end, didn’t really reflect (things). As the game went on, I thought we played really well. I thought we were in it the whole way. They got a couple of bounces and were able to find the back of the net.”
The Heartlanders have another three-game home set this coming weekend, this time against the Fort Wayne Komets.
“Overall, I thought our compete level was much better Saturday and Sunday than it was Friday,” Damon said. “I mean, it was a 5-0 score last night, 5-1 today. But, to me, it’s not that. This was a much closer game than the score indicates. We had our season high in shots, but we weren’t able to capitalize. That’s something that will be an area of emphasis, something we’re going to focus on this week in practice.”
Comments: (319)-398-8258, firstname.lastname@example.org