With NHL on Olympic break, Erik Haula is lighting up the AHL for Iowa

Written by Tommy Birch, Des Moines Register

Erik Haula doesn’t know where he’ll be playing by the end of the month.

For now, though, he’s making the most of his time in Iowa.

Haula was one of the few highlights Sunday for the Iowa Wild, who fell 4-2 against the Rockford IceHogs before 6,814 fans at Wells Fargo Arena.

“Individually, it’s nice to play, get some minutes and get some responsibility and stuff,” Haula said. “As a team, it doesn’t feel right when you lose.”

Just about everything else has gone right for the Finland native and Wild forward, who made his NHL debut earlier this season.

Haula, who has appeared in 25 games in multiple stints this season, tallied two goals and two assists, and he’s made quite an impression in Minnesota for Wild coach Mike Yeo.

But was the impression good enough?

When the NHL went on its Olympic break, Haula was sent back to Des Moines to continue to work on his game. He’s tallied four assists and three goals in four games since his return.

“You can see that he’s got another gear,” Iowa coach Kurt Kleinendorst said. “He seems like he’s got a half a step or maybe even a full step from when he was here before.”

Haula said he thinks his time in the NHL has helped his development.

“I’d like to think that I took a little step up there and it helped me develop my game and evolve it,” Haula said.

His game and confidence appear to be growing.

“You’re going to have times like that when things go your way,” Haula said.

“The puck was going in, and I was getting good help from my teammates. It was fun.”

But will the fun continue in Des Moines or Minnesota when the season resumes? Even Haula doesn’t know.

“Not expecting anything,” he said. “I’m just working on my game — doing everything I can to play well every night.”