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Game 57 Preview: Kalamazoo at Iowa

Saturday, March 12th
Game 57 Preview: Kalamazoo at Iowa

Coralville, Iowa – The Iowa Heartlanders (25-24-6-1, 57 pts.) play their third home game of the week against the Kalamazoo Wings (27-26-0-0, 54 pts.) Saturday at 7:00 p.m. Iowa has five games left against Kalamazoo this season, the Landers’ most-common opponent in Iowa’s final 16 games of the regular season. The Landers’ next three games are against Kalamazoo.Iowa has won eight of their last nine games and is coming off an emotional, 6-3 win over Fort Wayne Friday. Kris Bennett scored twice. Iowa netted three power-play markers and never trailed. There were 152 combined penalty minutes in the game.Kalamazoo has won three straight and is coming off a much-calmer 2-0 home victory vs. Indy on Friday. Justin Murray and Justin Taylor netted the two strikes for the K-Wings.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-GOAL.Promo: Appearance by Miss Iowa Grace Lynn KellerBroadcast Coverage: Listen at Iowaheartlanders.com/listenlive or mixlr.com/goheartlanders. Watch on MC22 (Channel 22, 722 and 822) and on FloHockey.tv.NHL Affiliates: Iowa Heartlanders (Minnesota Wild/Iowa Wild) | Kalamazoo Wings (Columbus Blue Jackets/Cleveland Monsters)Bennett and multi-goal gamesKris Bennett netted his second four-point game over the last month and leads Iowa with 25 goals and 53 points (34 GP) this season. Both those marks lead ECHL rookies. Bennett has six multi-goal contests this season and has generated multiple points in a game 18 times. Bennett scored twice Friday in the win over Fort WayneBennett is the reigning ECHL Rookie of the Month; he scored ten goals and 22 points in February.Linemate Ryan Kuffner was given credit for three points (1g) in Friday’s win.

Scouting Kalamazoo The K-Wings snapped a season-long eight-game losing streak a week ago against Tulsa and have won all three games since ending the losing streak. The eight-game slide was Kalamazoo’s longest since November-December 2014 (nine games). Friday against Indy, the Wings shut out the Indy Fuel behind 32 saves from Trevor Gorsuch.Head Coach Nick Bootland is looking to engineer a late-season turnaround that will help Kalamazoo clinch a playoff berth for the ninth time in 12 ECHL seasons.Kalamazoo picked up reinforcements in net since their last battle against Iowa Feb. 18-19, signing third-year netminder Jake Kielly. He has yet to play since re-joining the Wings. Kielly played for Kalamazoo as a rookie in 2019-20 and with AHL Utica in 2020-21. 

Season Series KalamazooIowa is 2-2-1-0 against Kalamazoo and has won back-to-back games in the series. The home team has yet to win any of then first five matchups. Iowa won back-to-back games at the Wings Event Center Feb. 18-19, each by a 5-2 score.There haven’t been any lead changes in the series yet; the squad that has scored first has won all five games.Iowa and Kalamazoo play five more times this season; Mar. 12, Mar. 18-19, Mar. 30 and Apr. 8.Ryan Kuffner has scored four goals and nine points in the series, best of any Heartlanders skater. Kuffner and Kris Bennett each have five assists. Ten Heartlanders have at least a goal in the series, compared to nine Wings. Zach Jordan leads Kalamazoo with four goals in the series. Tanner Sorenson is best on the K-Wings with six assists and seven points.

3 straight ahead Iowa’s next three games are against Kalamazoo; the front end is Saturday at Xtream Arena and Mar. 18-19 the Landers visit Wings Event Center. This is the fifth time this season Iowa plays at least three straight games against an opponent. The previous four instances happened Dec. 8-11 (Toledo), Dec. 17-27 (Kansas City), Jan. 7-9 (Rapid City) and Feb. 9-12. In the first game of three straight, Iowa is 0-3-1-0. Iowa is 3-1-0-0 in the second game and . In the third of three straight, the Landers are 2-1-1-0.

Big Game, TV Game Saturday’s game airs on Mediacom MC22 (Channel 22, 722 and 822), the sixth time the Heartlanders have a game on television this season. Iowa won its first game in team history on MC22, a 7-4 triumph over Kansas City. Iowa is 2-3-0-0 for the year during TV games. Iowa’s last two television games are Mar. 26 vs. Cincinnati and Apr. 9 vs. Indy. The Heartlanders also have a weekly coaches show that airs Tuesdays from 6:00-6:30 on MC22 called “In the Heartland,” which features highlights analysis from players, Head Coach Gerry Fleming and voice of the Heartlanders David Fine. 

Remaining Games Both Teams Iowa has 16 games left in its inaugural 2021-22 season, with the next 13 against Central Division opponents. Kalamazoo (5 games) and Cincinnati (4 games) are Iowa’s most-common foe in the final 16 of the campaign.Kalamazoo has 19 games remaining; all are against the Central Division. The K-Wings’ most-common opponents down the stretch are Iowa and Fort Wayne (4 games).Upcoming Home Games- Saturday, Mar. 12th at 7:00 p.m. vs. Kalamazoo – Appearance by Miss Iowa Grace Lynn Keller- Wednesday, Mar. 23rd at 7:00 p.m. vs. Fort Wayne – game presented by Iowa City Area Association of Realtors- Friday, Mar. 25 at 7:00 p.m. vs. Cincinnati – Elementary School Night presented by MidWestOne Bank

- Saturday, Mar. 26 at 7:00 p.m. vs. Cincinnati – First Responders Night presented by Steindler Orthopedic Clinic

The 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.