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Kunin morphing into Iowa's Badger State bully

Iowa forward -- and former Wisconsin Badger -- but has made life difficult for the state's AHL team

by Dan Myers @MNWildScribe / Wild.com

DES MOINES -- Luke Kunin was the first sophomore captain in more than three decades at the University of Wisconsin. In his two years as a Badger, Kunin became immensely popular in Madison. 

But after a two-goal night in Game 2 on Tuesday at Wells Fargo Arena, Kunin is breaking hearts in the Badger State. 

Iowa's 5-1 win over Milwaukee assured the Wild of a home-ice hold in the first two games of the first-round series and means Iowa will take a 2-0 series advantage to Milwaukee with a chance to close out Admirals Thursday at UW-Panther Arena. 

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As family grows, so does Zucker's community impact

Wild winger a King Clancy Memorial Trophy finalist for second straight season

by Phil Ervin / Wild.com

ST. PAUL -- Jason Zucker looked down at his sleeping four-week-old daughter and let the gravity of his experiences the past two years sink in for a moment.

The Wild winger and his wife Carly don't raise tens of thousands of dollars for the attention, he says. They didn't sell 16 different hats -- in connection to his jersey number and "GIVE16" charity efforts -- during the season so they could win an award. He doesn't devote much of his time away from the rink to hospital visits, awareness campaigns and media appearances because of an appetite for the limelight.

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Zucker named a finalist for King Clancy Memorial Trophy

Wild forward is among the final three for a second consecutive season

by Minnesota Wild @MNWildScribe / Wild.com

ST. PAUL -- The National Hockey League (NHL) today announced Minnesota Wild forward Jason Zucker is a finalist for the 2019 King Clancy Memorial Trophy, awarded to the player who best exemplifies leadership qualities on and off the ice and has made a noteworthy humanitarian contribution in his community. The winner of the 2019 King Clancy Memorial Trophy will be revealed at the 2019 NHL Awards™ presented by Bridgestone on Wednesday, June 19 at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas at 7 p.m. CT on NBCSN.

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Lengthy losing streak tested Iowa's mettle, turned its season around

Eight-game skid late in the year put Wild's Calder Cup playoff hopes in serious peril before reinforcements arrived just in time

by Dan Myers @MNWildScribe / Wild.com

DES MOINES -- It was an unlikely rallying point for the Iowa Wild during what has turned out to be a historic sixth season. 

On the morning of April 7, Iowa gathered in a conference room at its team hotel in Milwaukee. The Wild had gotten its doors blown off across the street at UW-Panther Arena the night before, losing 5-1 to the Admirals. 

It was Iowa's eighth consecutive defeat, and its once-promising season was circling the drain. With the Central Division championship in its sights for most of the season, simply reaching the playoffs was now a major concern. The Wild woke up that morning out of the Central's top-four and out of a playoff spot for the first time since early October and with just three games left in the regular season.

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Rau doesn't back down, gets last laugh on memorable goal in Game 1

Diminutive forward battled through a barrage of cross checks to score his second goal of the game Sunday against Milwaukee

by Dan Myers @MNWildScribe / Wild.com

DES MOINES -- When the games get biggest, that's when Kyle Rau seems to play his best. 

Its been that way, seemingly forever, for the Eden Prairie product, who once upon a time, scored a game-winning goal in the third overtime to clinch a state championship in high school.

As one of just six guys in the lineup with AHL playoff experience for the Iowa Wild on Sunday, Rau came up big again in helping his team to a 7-0 win over the Milwaukee Admirals. The game marked the first playoff game in Iowa's history, and by its conclusion, the first playoff victory as well.

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'Captain Cal' leads the way as Iowa scores first-ever playoff win

O'Reilly credited with game-winning goal, one assist as Iowa dominates Game 1 against Milwaukee

by Dan Myers @MNWildScribe / Wild.com

DES MOINES -- Playing in its first-ever Calder Cup Playoff game, perhaps it was fitting that the Iowa Wild's most experienced postseason performer played a starring role in its first-ever playoff victory.

Suiting up in an AHL postseason game for the 78th time in his career, Cal O'Reilly scored one goal and assisted on another as Iowa won Game 1 of its best-of-5 series against the Milwaukee Admirals 7-0 at Wells Fargo Arena on Sunday. 

While Iowa was experiencing the postseason for the first time since the franchise moved to Central Iowa six seasons ago, perhaps no team in the AHL knows the playoffs better than its first round opponent, the Admirals, who have reached the postseason in 14 of their 17 seasons since joining the league in 2001. 

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(Iowa) Wild Warmup: Previewing Iowa's playoff series against Milwaukee

Notes and anecdotes as Minnesota's AHL affiliate opens the Calder Cup Playoffs versus the Admirals on Sunday in Des Moines

by Dan Myers @MNWildScribe / Wild.com

DES MOINES -- For the first time since migrating north from Houston, Texas, the Wild's American Hockey League affiliate will pursue a Calder Cup championship. 

It's been eight years since the franchise's AHL team has won a playoff series, in 2011, when the Houston Aeros advanced to the Calder Cup Finals. 

There is one common thread between those teams: Defenseman Nate Prosser, who skated in 73 games for the Aeros that season and in all 24 playoff contests.

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Prospect Report: April 18, 2019

Iowa cliched its first Calder Cup Playoffs berth in franchise history

by Minnesota Wild @mnwild / Wild.com

The Iowa Wild, Minnesota Wild's American Hockey League affiliate, clinched its first Calder Cup Playoffs berth in franchise history and will face Milwaukee in the first round starting Sunday, April 21. Iowa set franchise records in wins, fewest regulation losses, points, goals scored (242), home wins (23), home points (52), power-play percentage (23.8%), power-play goals (69) and shorthanded goals (10). The Wild also ranked second in the AHL in power-play percentage this season and third in PPG.

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Staal looks forward to remaining part of solution in Minnesota

Veteran center 'disappointed' with 2018-19 but relishes another shot with new contract in hand

by Phil Ervin / Wild.com

ST. PAUL -- Perhaps no individual performance this past season better personified the Wild's collective dissatisfaction than that of Eric Staal.

No. 12 is still No. 12. Still capable of potting a gigantic goal at a gigantic moment. Sturdy as ever, appearing in 81 games after playing all 82 during his first two campaigns in Minnesota. Often in prime scoring position, a locale in which he's set up permanent residence during a 15-year NHL career.

But like many of his teammates and the club as a whole, Staal often found himself staring at the Xcel Energy Center rafters in disbelief throughout 2018-19.

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Hunt hopes his hockey future remains in Minnesota

Defenseman is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent on July 1 but proved his game can stick at the NHL level

by Dan Myers @MNWildScribe / Wild.com

ST. PAUL -- For a guy that wasn't supposed to even make it this far in his hockey career, Wild defenseman Brad Hunt could reach a career crossroads on July 1, when he's scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent. 

Acquired from the Vegas Golden Knights on Jan. 21, Hunt became a solid contributor down the stretch for the Wild. It wasn't that he posted eye-popping, career-best numbers. But the journeyman defenseman did bring some late-season stability to the team's second pairing with Jonas Brodin.

Not bad for a guy who was an eighth defenseman with the Golden Knights and had gotten into just 13 games over the first 3 1/2 months of the season.

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