Post Game Report 1-7
La CROSSE, Wis. – Todd Sanden’s North Iowa squad had never lost to the La Crosse Freeze prior to Saturday night – not even when the team was playing in Flint, Mich. as the Jr. Generals. Sanden’s team had also suffered only one shutout loss in its history prior to Saturday night, a 1-0 edge-of-your-seat overtime thriller last January against the Granite City Lumberjacks.
That made Saturday’s 2-0 road loss sting a bit more, as a three-game winning streak came to an end and the Freeze made history on multiple fronts against the Central Division front-runners.
The special-teams situations that had been North Iowa’s forte over their last three outings came up cold in this one, but La Crosse’s Dylan Goggin started hot on the power play at the 7:54 mark of the first period with a snap from the slot past goaltender Drew Scites (Plymouth, Minn./Prior Lake H.S.). La Crosse came up empty on three man-advantage chances in the second period, as did their visitors in the third.
The insurance for the Freeze came at 9:24 of the third period, on Sam Dabrowski’s footrace into the North Iowa zone. His shot from the top of the right faceoff circle popped off of Scites’s right shoulder and settled into the net for a 2-0 La Crosse lead. The Bulls out-shot their hosts 15-5 in the final 20 minutes, without finding a way to beat La Crosse netminder Will Graves.
“I just think we weren’t ready,” said forward Mitch Parsons (Grandville, Mich./North Iowa Bulls). “We came out slow and just went in thinking we were going to win. We need to have that burning desire and we need to come out with more fire. We need to come together as a team and be more of a family. We need to be more positive.”
Scites stopped 33 of the first 35 shots against him as a North Iowa Bull. Will Graves moved his record for the year to 2-4-0 and pitched a shutout with 39 saves, after giving up at least three goals in each of his five previous outings this season. It’s the first time the Bulls have been shut out in regulation in 331 games of junior competition, both in NA3HL play and at the USA Hockey national championships.
North Iowa is off until Saturday, Jan. 14 when they face the Wisconsin Whalers back at the North Iowa Ice Arena and look to defend a 21-game home winning streak. The opening faceoff on YMCA Night at “The Barn” is set for 7:30 p.m.