Iowa begins crucial back-to-back with K-Wings
Coralville, Iowa - The Iowa Heartlanders (18-23-6-1, 43 pts.) visit the state of Michigan for the first time ever, starting a crucial back-to-back set with the Kalamazoo Wings (24-19-0-0, 48 pts.) Friday at 6:00 p.m.Kaid Oliver scored twice in the third period Wednesday, then Iowa potted twice in the shootout to deliver a 4-3 win at Xtream Arena Wednesday. Dereck Baribeau blocked 35 shots in victory, plus both Tulsa shootout shots.Kalamazoo is coming off a 6-3 loss Wednesday at Fort Wayne.The Landers and K-Wings play twice this weekend, Friday and Saturday. Iowa then returns home for a three-game home stand Feb. 23-26 at Xtream Arena. Friday, Feb. 25 at 7:00 p.m. vs. Fort Wayne is Batman Night, where the Heartlanders will wear special Batman jerseys that will be available for auction.Tavern Blue Fore Packs are available for all home games this season, which includes four tickets, four hot dogs, four sodas, VIP Parking and discounts from Tavern Blue restaurant. Tickets for the game are also available by calling 319-569-PUCK.Broadcast Coverage: Listen at Iowaheartlanders.com/listenlive or mixlr.com/goheartlanders. Watch on FloHockey.tv.NHL Affiliates: Iowa Heartlanders (Minnesota Wild/Iowa Wild) | Kalamazoo Wings (Columbus Blue Jackets/Cleveland Monsters)Division outlookIowa has played five more games than the K-Wings and trails Kalamazoo by five points in the division. The top-four teams in each division make the playoffs; in the event all teams in a division do not play the full 72-game season, the top-four by points percentage qualify.Toledo leads the division with 63 points, followed by Fort Wayne (52), Wheeling (51), Cincinnati (50) and Kalamazoo (48). Because Kalamazoo has played fewer games than the division foes around it, the K-Wings are fourth in Central Division points percentage.Oliver and Miura find connectionYuki Miura (1g) and Kaid Oliver (2g) accounted for Iowa’s regulation scoring in Wednesday’s win vs. Tulsa. Miura scored the opening goal of the game six minutes into the first, assisted by Oliver. With Iowa trailing by two in the third, Oliver scored his first of the game short-handed at 19 seconds of the third. Miura then found Oliver with six minutes to go at the left slot, similar to where the first-period goal happened. Luke Nogard rounded out the line and finished with his second assist since joining Iowa.Oliver has two career multi-goal efforts. Miura, playing in his first ECHL game since Dec. 29 (missed 20 games due to injury), has 13 points (7g) in 18 games.Kuffner keeps on producingRyan Kuffner earned an assist on Kaid Oliver’s short-handed goal in the third period Wednesday, extending his point streak to a franchise record 11 straight games. Kuffner has played in nine contests since returning from a mid-January injury.In those nine games, Kuffner has six goals and 16 points.Season SeriesFriday marks Iowa’s first visit to Kalamazoo; the clubs play seven more times this season and five games are at Wings Event Center.In the first three games of the series, the K-Wings have scored 11 times and won all three contests. Ryan Kuffner scored three times in the last weekend set at Xtream Arena (Jan. 28-29). He leads the Heartlanders with four points in the series. Kris Bennett is the only other active Lander to earn a goal in the series. Dereck Baribeau has yet to face Kalamazoo. Trevin Kozlowski is 0-2-0-0 against the K-Wings (7 GA in 2 GP).Wings forward Zach Jordan ripped a hat trick in the Jan. 28 win, 5-2, and leads all players with four goals. He is the only Kalamazoo player with multiple goals in the season series. Trevor Gorsuch is 3-0-0-0 with a 1.98 goals against average and .947 save percentage in the season series.Upcoming Home GamesWednesday, February 23rd at 7:00 p.m. vs. Wichita – College Night presented by Hills BankFriday, February 25th at 7:00 p.m. vs. Fort Wayne – DC Comics Night (special Batman jerseys)Saturday, February 26th at 7:00 p.m. vs. Fort Wayne – Paint with the Heartlanders, thanks to Brush and BarrelThe Heartlanders Season ticket memberships, group tickets, mini-plans, flex vouchers and single-game tickets are available for the Heartlanders inaugural season by calling 319-569-GOAL and visiting iowaheartlanders.com/tickets.