The Iowa Wild are in their first American Hockey League season after relocated from the Houston Aeros. The affiliate of the Minnesota Wild is currently on the outside, looking in. Iowa sits 12th in the 15 team Western Conference but are just six points out of a playoff spot.
On the roster of the Iowa Wild are just two grads of the Ontario Hockey League. As it happens, both are alumni of the Ottawa 67’s. Tyler Graovac, in his first year of pro hockey, joins Tyler Cuma. Cuma played three years with the franchise in Houston before moving north to Des Moines.
Cuma played four year in the OHL from 2006-07 to 2009-10, all with the 67’s. Back at the 2006 OHL Priority Selection, Tyler was taken sixth overall by Ottawa. Ahead of him were Steven Stamkos – Sarnia Sting; Michael Del Zotto – Oshawa Generals; Alex Pietrangelo – Mississauga IceDogs; Mitch Gaulton – Erie Otters and James Livingston – Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds.
At the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, Minnesota took Cuma in the first round, 23rd overall. Tyler has played pro since 2010-11, mostly in the AHL. He has played in one NHL game to date, with the Wild during the 2011-12 season. This year, barring injury, Cuma will surpass the 200 game plateau in the American Hockey League. Tyler is signed through the 2013-14 season.
Graovac played four years in the Ontario Hockey League from 2009-10 to 2012-13, with the Ottawa 67’s and Belleville Bulls. Tyler was a third round pick by the 67’s in 2009 and was traded to Belleville midway through the 2012-13 season.
In his final year, Graovac put up decent numbers in a season split between the 67’s and Bulls. He appeared in 60 regular season games, scoring 38 goals and assisting on 35 for 73 points. His 38 goals tied him for tenth in the OHL with Daniel Catenacci of the Owen Sound Attack and Barclay Goodrow of the Brampton Battalion. In the Robertson Cup playoffs, he added another 22 points in 15 games. Graovac was not only named the William Hanley Trophy winner as the OHL’s most sportsmanlike player, he was also selected as the CHL Sportsman of the Year.
The Wild took Graovac in the seventh round of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, 191st overall. In his first year of pro hockey, he has spent his entire season to date with Iowa. Tyler is signed through 2015-16.
The Wild play out of the Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines, Iowa. The venue was opened in 2005 and has a capacity of 15,181 for hockey. Originally, it was the home of the Iowa Stars of the AHL. The Stars / Chops franchise played in Des Moines from 2005-06 to 2008-09 before relocating to become the Texas Stars.
The Wild relocated from Houston for the 2013-14 season. Since 1994-95, the franchise was known as the Houston Aeros, first in the IHL then in the AHL.
As mentioned, Iowa sits 12th in the 15 team Western Conference. However, this is a team on the move and they are three wins out of a playoff spot. As for the Texas Stars, they sit in fourth spot in the West.