Iowa Heartlanders Highlight Fast Start Ahead of Three-Game Road Trip

The Heartlanders will play against three teams in four days this week.

Gabby Drees

Iowa defenseman Carter Shinkaruk defends during a hockey game between the Iowa Heartlanders and Kalamazoo Wings at Xtream Arena in Coralville, Iowa on Friday, December 28, 2022. The Wings defeated the Heartlanders 5-2.

The Iowa Heartlanders know that a quick start gives them the chance to win every game.

The Heartlanders are 10-1-2-0 in games they led at the end of the first period. Iowa went 11-0-1-0 in games and lead at the end of the second period.

The Heartlanders are 2-11-2-0 in games trailing after the first period. Iowa has gone 2-15-1-1 when it follows at the end of the second period.

As the 15-20-5-1 Heartlanders prepare to collide with the 22-16-1-0 Cincinnati Cyclones on Wednesday, the 26-9-0-2 Toledo Walleye on Friday and the 20-17-1-0 Wheeling Nails on Saturday, they are focused on breaking out the gates in every matchup.

“We’re going out and preparing as best we can and have the mentality that we’re going to be the best from the first period and keep rolling in the second and third periods,” defender Carter Shinkaruk said. The Daily Iowan Tuesday by phone.

While a stretch of three road races in four nights is daunting, the Heartlanders are prepared for the challenge.

“If you ask any of the guys on our team, I think we’re willing to play against any team, anytime, anywhere,” said Shinkaruk. “So definitely nice to be home three games in a row or at least in one location, but these were the cards we got. So we’re not going to use it as an excuse and we’re willing to win all three.”

Shinkaruk believes getting pucks deep and focusing on forechecks could be the keys to the Heartlanders’ success this week

“I think that’s one thing, if we pre-check well and finish checks, we’re at our best,” Shinkaruk said.

Shinkaruk started the 2021-22 season with the Quad City Storm in the Southern Professional Hockey League. The right-handed attacker realized that the Storm had enough attackers but too few defenders.

So Shinkaruk switched from forward – the position he’s played since he started playing hockey – to the back line.

“Making the switch was a fun challenge that I really enjoyed,” said Shinkaruk. “That keeps it fun and interesting. My background when I was playing forward was in the middle position, so I think being responsible defensively is something that is required as a center, so it made the transition a bit better.”

Shinkaruk has signed with the Heartlanders three times over the course of the 2021-22 season.

RELATED: Iowa Heartlanders fall against Kalamazoo Wings, 3-2

The 30-year-old first signed with Iowa on December 8 and was released the following day. He re-signed with the Heartlanders after their December 10 game and played on December 11. Shinkaruk was released again on December 12.

Shinkaruk signed with the Heartlanders for a third time on December 26 and has competed with the club ever since. He scored one goal and seven assists in 19 games as a Heartlander.

Shinkaruk also competed in the ECHL in the 2015-16 season, competing with the Idaho Steelheads for three games.

The puck drop for the Heartlanders is Wednesday at 6:35 PM, Friday at 6:15 PM and Saturday at 6:10 PM.

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