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Game 58 Preview: Iowa at Kalamazoo

Wednesday, March 16th
Game 58 Preview: Iowa at Kalamazoo

Kalamazoo, MI – The Iowa Heartlanders (26-24-6-1, 59 pts.) have won nine of ten games heading into a road weekend at the Kalamazoo Wings (28-27-0-0, 56 pts.) Friday at 6:00 p.m. This is Iowa’s second straight game vs. Kalamazoo; the Heartlanders won the first game, 4-3, last Saturday at Xtream Arena. Iowa has nine road games remaining, two of which are this weekend at the K-Wings.Iowa has won five straight road games, the longest streak in team history. Since Feb. 12, the Heartlanders have only lost once, which happened Mar. 9 against Fort Wayne. Over the last ten games, Iowa is outscoring foes, 47-27.Kalamazoo has won four of five since enduring an eight-game losing streak, the team’s longest skid since 2014-15. Their only loss over the last five came to Iowa last Saturday. The K-Wings got back on the winning end with a come-from-behind 3-2 victory at Cincinnati Wednesday.Captain Kris Bennett leads Iowa offensively with 27 goals and 56 points in 35 games. He and linemate Ryan Kuffner lead qualified ECHL forwards in points-per-game. Each average more than 1.5 points/contest. Netminder Corbin Kaczperski won his sixth straight game vs. the K-Wings last time out, blocking 25 shots in victory, but has since signed a PTO with AHL Syracuse.The Heartlanders have six home games left at Xtream Arena and the club’s next 3-game home stand is Mar. 23-26 vs. Fort Wayne and Cincinnati. The game on Wednesday Mar. 23 vs. Fort Wayne is presented by the Iowa City Area Association of Realtors. It’s Elementary School Night on Fri., Mar. 25 vs. Cincinnati, presented by MidWestOne Bank. On Mar. 26, Iowa hosts Cincinnati again for First Responders Night, presented by Steindler Orthopedic Clinic.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.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)Last Time Out Ryan Kuffner scored the game-winning goal on the breakaway with 4:43 left to break a 3-3 tie and the Heartlanders defeated Kalamazoo for the third time this season Mar. 12 at Xtream Arena. Iowa scored a pair of power-play goals in the second period to take a 3-1 lead, but Kalamazoo netted the first two goals in the third period. Corbin Kaczperski (25 saves) and Jake Kielly (29 saves) faced off for the first time in the series.Kris Bennett scored Iowa’s first two goals and leads the team with seven multi-goal games this campaign. Bryce Misley scored his eighth of the season on the power play, second on the team to Jake Smith (11 PPG).Power-play wizards Iowa’s power play scored twice on four chances last Saturday vs. Kalamazoo, giving the team five power-play goals over the last two contests. The Landers have netted 16 man-up goals over the last nine games (16-for-42, 38.1%).On Jan. 7, Iowa’s power play stood at 22nd in the league at a 16.7% conversion rate. Since that point the club is 36-for-109 (33.0%), moving the Heartlanders to third in the league on the power play.Jake Smith has scored 11 man-up goals over that span, most in the league, and the Heartlanders are 17-8-3 in those 28 games.Bennett and Kuffner update Despite the Heartlanders playing four games so far this month, fewest in the entire league, Iowa’s best offensive weapons Kris Bennett and Ryan Kuffner are among the top points producers in the league again in March. Bennett scored four times last week and has nine points over four games (5g). Kuffner has generated 11 points (8a) in March. Kuffner won February’s Player of the Month award with a league-monthly-high 23 points. Bennett was second in February with 22 points and earned the league’s Rookie of the Month distinction.Impressively, each has earned an assist on another’s goal twelve times since Bennett returned from the AHL Jan. 29. Equally as impressive, there have been six other instances where both have earned assists on another teammate’s goal. That represents 18 of Iowa’s 71 goals (25.3%) over that span in which the two have been directly involved in sparking the others’ success. Zach White centers the Kuffner-White-Bennett line and has scored 33 points in 37 games. Upcoming Home Games- 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.