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Bulls Battle Back, Close Out 2016 with Comeback Victory

Post Game Report 12-31

GAME BOXSCORE

ROCHESTER, Minn. – After an 8-1 win on Friday night at home, North Iowa’s hope was to roll to another win over the Rochester Ice Hawks in their building, finish off 2016 with a bang and make it a dominant dozen wins in a row in the all-time series between the teams.

Unfortunately, the best-laid plans for mice, men and championship hockey teams occasionally go awry. By the time six minutes had come off the clock in the second period, the lead was 3-1 in favor of Rochester, the Ice Hawks had chased starting goalie Brady Meyers (Rochester, Minn./Austin Bruins) from the game, and the Bulls’ new plan was just to get out of town with another win. Thanks to three straight goals in the second period, they did get out with a 4-3 win to keep their unbeaten all-time record intact against their hosts.

Owen Larson‘s (Minneapolis, Minn./North Iowa Bulls) goal from the top of the left faceoff circle gave North Iowa the initial lead in the game, with just 5:01 to go in the first period, but with just 32 seconds remaining on the clock, Charlie Bill’s first tally as an Ice Hawk evened the game and shifted the momentum going to the second period.

Ethan Sievek gave the home team a 2-1 lead just 70 seconds into the second period, with a dribbler underneath Meyers. Less than five minutes later, Austyn Renn snapped one in to make it 3-1 and end the former John Marshall Rocket’s night in net. The win went to replacement R.J. Pluhar (Glen Carbon, Ill./Aberdeen Wings), who stopped all 13 shots he saw in the game.

The comeback began with 7:14 remaining in the second period, as Connor Clemons (Savage, Minn./Prior Lake H.S.) snapped one past Bailey Schmitz off of a tape-to-tape feed from Tim Kuivinen (Mahtomedi, Minn./Mahtomedi H.S.). Kuivinen himself tied the game less than a minute later, and Mitch Dolter‘s (Faribault, Minn./Shattuck-St. Mary’s) one-timer on the doorstep off of a backhand pass from Sean Mallonee (Kennewick, Wash./North Iowa Bulls) gave the visitors the lead for good with 4:14 remaining in the period.

Schmitz took the loss after making 37 saves on 41 shots in the contest, while his teammates notched all of their three goals against Meyers on the team’s first 11 shots of the game. After going 4-for-4 on the man-advantage Friday, the Bulls victimized Rochester’s penalty-killing unit again Saturday to the tune of a 2-for-5 night on the power play.

The next home game for the Bulls will have to wait another week, with a Saturday night road trip to La Crosse on tap for next week. The opening faceoff in La Crosse is slated for 7 p.m. at the Green Island Ice Arena. All Bulls home and away games are streamed live on HockeyTV. Audio streaming of all Bulls home games and select road games, including next Saturday’s game at La Crosse, is also available on Mixlr.