116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CORALVILLE — A lot of good. Even if the end result was bad.
Iowa rallied from a two-goal hole late in the third period to force extra time. In the end, it’s a standings point.
Yet with the hole the Heartlanders have dug themselves early in the ECHL season, that’s not enough. Head coach Derek Damon’s postgame demeanor showed disappointment.
“There are some positives,” he said. “We battled back and got a point. But at the end of the day, we’ve got to come away with the win. There were some people that didn’t bring it today, and we’ll identify those guys and make the adjustments accordingly.”
Damon stressed he feels his club is making progress. It outshot and outchanced the opponent here, which is a step in the right direction.
Iowa has had a lot of roster upheaval the first month-plus, part of the reason it is 1-7-1-1. But the current mix does show promise.
Defenseman and captain Riese Zmolek returned to the fold for this game after playing in the American Hockey League with the Rochester Americans for a couple of weeks or so on a PTO (Player Tryout Contract). Iowa traded for goalie Trevin Kozlowski last week, and the 2021-22 Heartlander should form a solid duo with Corbin Kaczperski in net.
The teams traded second-period goals, with Cole Stallard netting Iowa’s. Kalamazoo scored twice in the third for a 3-1 lead, one goal coming on a rebound batted out of mid-air, the other after a video review.
But the Heartlanders tied it with just over five minutes left on goals from defenseman Matt Murphy and Yuki Miura just 38 seconds apart.
“I just liked the effort out of our guys today,” Damon said. “We battled back and tied it up with time to play. I thought we carried the play for a lot of the game. To me, I thought we were in better shape. Their goalie just played well today. Hats off to him.”
That’d be Evan Cormier, who has spent a lot of time in the AHL in his career. He made some point-blank saves in the game, including in overtime.
The Heartlanders went a full week without playing, getting some much-needed practice time in. There will be zero rest this week, as they play Wednesday at Kalamazoo, Friday at Indianapolis, then return home for back-to-backers Saturday and Sunday against Cincinnati.
That’s a lot of hockey.
“It’s the grind of the ECHL,” Damon said. “That’s why we’re conditioned athletes. We worked them hard this week for this part coming up here. You’ve got to take care of yourself, got to make sure you’ve got proper rest and proper nutrition so your body can handle the test of four games in five days.”
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