FRASER, Mich. – North Iowa knew the resume of its opponent when they traveled out to suburban Detroit to face the Metro Jets Saturday night. Two-time defending NA3HL finalists. Eight returning players from last year’s national runner-up team, including Robby Flannery, who played for Metro in their 2016 title-game appearance against the Bulls. Three of the NA3HL’s top 15 scorers. A 57-game regular-season winning streak.
That winning streak is over.
The Bulls turned the game from a scoreless tie to a 2-0 contest in a matter of 12 seconds in the first period, and weathered a second-period storm to earn a 7-2 victory and push their own winning streak to seven games.
Playing just 45 miles from home, Dominic Skrelja (South Lyon, Mich./Honeybaked U18) got the scoring started at the 8:35 mark of the first period. Bryceton Butkiewicz (Kettle River, Minn./Minnesota Wilderness) made his return from the NAHL Showcase with a second tally just 12 seconds later. Josh Arnold (Roseville, Minn./North Iowa Bulls) pushed the lead to a 3-0 margin with his own marker with just 3:12 remaining on the first-period clock.
The second period saw the Jets and Bulls trade goals, but the margin held at three goals heading into the third period. Connor Inger buried his sixth goal of the season at the 7:16 mark to make it a 3-1 contest, but Cameron Fagerlee (St. Anthony, Minn./Totino-Grace H.S.) had a response of his own with eight minutes remaining in the period.
The lead doubled from there – Skrelja put another one in at the six-minute mark of the third, and within just over two minutes, Tyler Bump (Prior Lake, Minn./North Iowa Bulls) and Isaac Baron (Burnsville, Minn./Academy of Holy Angels) had pushed the lead to 7-1. Jhuwon Davis would get one late in his Jets debut, scoring with 3:49 remaining for the last goal of the game.
Colin Cain (Hummelstown, Pa./N.J. Junior Titans U18) got the first look at the Jets in net, and came in ready to weather a storm. Cain stopped 17 of the home team’s 18 shots in the second period, and made 33 saves on the night for his third win as a Bull.
Andrew Kormos made his return to the Jets after posting 28 wins a year ago, but allowed seven goals on 23 shots before being pulled after Baron’s first career North Iowa tally. Brian Tallieu came on in relief and stopped all three of the Bulls’ shots on net in the final 12 minutes.
The visit to Michigan isn’t over, though. The Bulls will square off in a rematch with the Jets on Sunday – the opening faceoff at Fraser Hockeyland is scheduled for 11:45 a.m. Mason City time. Live video streaming of Sunday’s game is available on HockeyTV.