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Still in the Hunt

Iowa Wild making playoff push with 15 games remaining

Iowa’s Steven Kampfer looks to make a pass to Marc Hagel in the Wild’s 4-2 loss to the Texas Stars on March 19. (Photo: Ted Sandeen/Iowa Wild)

 

Iowa Wild making playoff push with 15 games remaining.

DES MOINES—It may seem like a long shot, but the Iowa Wild are still in the playoff hunt. They are currently in 12th place in the Western Conference in the American Hockey League, four spots out of playoff position, but just nine points behind the eighth-place Rockford Ice Hogs with two games in hand.

The Wild its three-game winning streak snapped on Wednesday night against the Texas Stars, losing 4-2 and being outshot 36-14 in their second game of a six-game home stand, which began on Sunday and will conclude on Wednesday, March 26.

The streak started on March 8 on the heels of a six-game losing streak that stretched from Feb. 22 to March 7. They were outscored 28-6 during the skid that sunk them all the way to 12th place in the West.

During the winning streak, goaltender Johan Gustafsson seemed to be back to good form, starting in all three games and only giving up five goals on 90 shots. Wild coach Kurt Kleinendorst said that he thought Gustafsson was picking up confidence throughout those games.

“It had been a while since he had won then he stepped in up in Grand Rapids and played a solid game and then he goes into Milwaukee and plays really well and now tonight (Sunday), again, even in the first period I thought we played well but he had to make the more difficult saves, and he did,” Kleinendorst said. “If he doesn’t feel good about himself, he should.”

Gustafsson couldn’t keep his momentum rolling in Wednesday’s game as he gave up four goals on 36 shots as the Wild lost to the Stars.

Wild defenseman Steven Kampfer, who scored the game winner in Sunday’s game, said the mood around the locker room, as they make a playoff push with the season nearing its end, is good.

“Guys are happy, guys are excited, we’re having a good time because right now we’re on a winning streak,” Kampfer said. “We’re trending, we’re doing the little things we have to do to be successful, so right now it’s a good mood and everyone’s happy and wants to be at the rink.”

Kampfer has 20 points (six goals, 14 assists) in 55 games this season.

The Wild currently stand at 25-26-6-4 with 15 games remaining this season, including one more game against Rockford on the road on April 12. If the Wild can manage to string a few wins together once again, that game could have serious playoff implications.

 

Clint Cole is a freelance hockey writer and reports for Minnesota Hockey Magazine providing coverage of the Iowa Wild, the American Hockey League affiliate of the Minnesota Wild. Clint has grown up around hockey and played the sport since he was a kid all the way through high school. For more coverage of the Iowa Wild, including live tweets from many games, follow @Colezy24 on Twitter.

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