Series Recap: Heartlanders Swept by First Place Toledo Walleye

Coralville, Iowa- Nothing better represents the frustration Heartlanders fans felt this weekend than Ben Brinkman slapping the puck away while Toledo was pouring onto the ice to celebrate their Sunday winner. While Iowa was able to add a point in the standings, the team slipped down to a tie for fourth in the standings.

On Friday night, Iowa was riding the high of their successful road trip and sought to defend their six-game home winning streak. Davis Koch began the festivities with his 14th goal of the season, and in the third, he would find the net again for what can only be described as a wonder goal, which you can check out below:

While that goal belongs on SportsCenter, you may have noticed that the Heartlanders were down 4-2 going into that moment. While Maxim Cajkovic beat Walleye goalie Jan Bednar for his eighth of the season and first since returning from injury, this could not stop the Walleye from finding the back of Peyton Jones’ net four times in the second period.

While the immaculate Toledo power play, led by Central Division journeyman and superstar Brandon Hawkins, was unable to score on Friday, they were able to find the back of the net for Saturday’s Teddy Bear Toss Game, scoring two times on just four opportunities.

Before that, the Heartlanders sported special holiday-edition red and green uniforms for the special day they knew they were playing on. Cajkovic found it raining stuffed animals after netting his 9th, and you can feel your heart warming from the tradition of donating these to children in need and relive the moment with Heartlanders broadcaster David Fine below:

After this beautiful moment in the second, Iowa lost control of the game, conceding five goals in a row. However, Louis Boudon and Odeen Tufto were able to score their 5th and 3rd of the season, respectively, and the game ended by a score of 7-3 in favor of the Walleye.

Looking to scrap a positive from the weekend, Head coach and General Manager Derek Damon made three changes to his lineup, giving Hunter Jones a chance in net and welcoming back Forward Nick Campoli and their captain, defenseman Kevin McKernan, both coming off injuries.

While a change in fortune seemed unlikely after going down 2-0 in the first 21 minutes of the Sunday Elementary School Game, which promotes the well-being of local public elementary schools with a fraction of ticket sales, Iowa found a way to excite the kids in the second period and early third, with Louis Boudon scoring his 6th and 7th, Cajkovic tallied his 9th goal. While Novak beat John Lethemon for his third in just eight games.  

While it took overtime to separate the two teams, Iowa’s allowing of the final two goals of regulation proved to be something they could not come back from, losing the game by a score of 5-4, managing a point on the weekend and welcoming fans to skate on the ice during postgame.

Iowa will look forward to hosting their rivalry weekend with Fort Wayne, playing on Thursday through Saturday, December 21-23. Thursday and Friday’s games will start at 6:30 CT, while Saturday will see the puck drop at 6:00 with a Heartlanders trading card giveaway. Thursday’s game will be Iowa’s last Thursday game of the season, with the remainder of Heartlander’s weekday games scheduled for Wednesdays.

Coach Damon will look to reinvigorate a now-healthy Heartlanders squad as Iowa looks to push back up toward second place in the Central Division.

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