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Jan. 25, 2017

– Iowa’s first regulation win at Van Andel Arena since March 8, 2014 pushed the Wild’s record above the 0.500 mark for the first time since Feb. 25 of that same year, as the visitors exorcised a pair of longstanding demons with a 2-1 decision over the Grand Rapids Griffins on Wednesday.

The Western Conference-leading Griffins, who had posted a 9-0-0-1 record in their previous 10 home games against Iowa, saw their three-game overall and home winning streaks snapped while suffering only their second home-ice loss since Thanksgiving (9-2-0-2).

Alex Stalock authored the victory behind 38 saves, belying the 3.93 goals against average and 0.880 save percentage that he had posted in his first four games against Grand Rapids this season, while former Griffins captain Jeff Hoggan notched the game-winning goal, his first tally in three visits to Van Andel Arena since his departure.

Iowa (20-19-4-1) turned a Griffins turnover at center ice into the game’s first goal 13:10 into the opening period. Sprung on a breakaway by Maxime Fortunus’ stretch pass, Marc Hagel sped in alone on Eddie Pasquale only to be denied by the goalie’s left pad, but a trailing Mario Lucia rushed in to knock home the rebound.

Late in the second, Hoggan gave the Wild a 2-0 lead by scoring his second goal of the season against his old team. Planting himself atop the crease during a power play, he took a pass from Sam Anas and stuffed the puck between Pasquale’s pads at the 14:30 mark.

The Griffins, who last Wednesday in Iowa overcame a 2-0 deficit with 11:06 remaining in regulation to steal a 3-2 overtime win, had the Wild thinking déjà vu late in the third when Robbie Russo put Grand Rapids (27-11-1-2) on the board with a power play goal. With Hoggan in the penalty box for delay of game after chipping the puck over the glass, Russo fired a rocket from the right circle past a screened Stalock, igniting the crowd of 9,935 and extending the Griffins’ power play goal streak to 11 games, two shy of the franchise record.

Pasquale went to the bench for an extra attacker with 1:20 remaining but the Griffins could not net the equalizer, resulting in Pasquale’s first home regulation loss this season in seven decisions (4-1-0-2). He finished with 25 saves.

The Griffins will conclude their five-game homestand this weekend by hosting their first-ever clashes against the San Jose Barracuda (Friday) and Stockton Heat (Saturday). Game time each night is 7 p.m.

Three Stars: 1. IA Stalock (W, 38 saves); 2. IA Lucia (goal, assist); 3. GR Russo (power play goal)