THURSDAY, JAN. 19, 7:30 P.M., NORTH IOWA ICE ARENA (MASON CITY, IOWA)
IN A NUTSHELL: A home-and-home series between the defending Silver Cup champions and one of the sport’s storied prep programs begins tonight on home ice in “The Barn.”
ALL-TIME SERIES: North Iowa is tied, 2-2-0 (last year’s meeting: Bulls win, 5-3).
LAST WEEKEND’S RECAP: North Iowa newcomer Tyler Bump made an immediate impact in his first game after reporting from the Minnesota Magicians, tallying a goal and two assists in a 6-1 win last Saturday night against the Wisconsin Whalers. Bump assisted on Connor Clemons‘s tally at 3:49 of the first period, on one of his first shifts in a Bulls sweater. His goal with 1:45 remaining in the first period would stand up as the game-winner, thanks to Drew Scites‘s 15 saves. The game was a heated one, and things boiled over in the third period, when nine players were sent to the showers early, including seven ejections. The Bulls and Whalers combined for 236 penalty minutes in the game, including more than 200 minutes’ worth of infractions in the final period alone.
THIS WEEK’S PROMOTIONS: Ticket prices for Thursday’s game have been discounted slightly – admission to this game is just $8 for adults, and $3 for children ages 5-16. For information on all upcoming Bulls promotions, click the “Game Day Fun” link at NorthIowaBulls.com, or click here.
COVERAGE: All North Iowa Bulls games, home and away, are streamed live at HockeyTV.com. All home games and select road games are also audio-streamed at no charge through Mixlr – click the “Listen Live” link at NorthIowaBulls.com, or click here.
SO LONG FOR SOLOW: The Shattuck-St. Mary’s Sabres aren’t the only team on the ice tonight that are sending players to NCAA Division I hockey. On Tuesday, former North Iowa and Amarillo Bull Jeff Solow announced his immediate commitment to Merrimack College in Hockey East – thanks to some roster movement and injuries within the Warriors program, Solow will begin his Division I journey this weekend and will likely start classes this coming week. The Naples, Fla. native played 20 games with North Iowa last season, scoring 11 points and playing a key midseason role with the eventual Silver Cup national champs.
BLOOD LINES: It comes as no surprise that several players on Shattuck-St. Mary’s team have family connections within the sport – when the Bulls earned their first win against the Sabres in 2013, the goaltender for Shattuck-St. Mary’s was none other than Jeremy Brodeur, whose father Martin won 691 games in the NHL, by far the most in hockey history. On this year’s team, two forwards have especially impressive family lineages in the sport – Niko Esposito-Selivanov is the son of longtime NHL forward Alex Selivanov and the grandson of Hall of Famer Phil Esposito. Philippe LaPointe is himself the son of an NHL standout, 1997 and ’98 Stanley Cup champion Martin LaPointe.
TOP-LEVEL CONNECTIONS: The majority of the players on this year’s Shattuck-St. Mary’s squad have already earned selections from the four top-level junior hockey leagues in North America, either in their entry drafts or in their futures drafts. Of note is Jeremy Davidson, who was chosen in the USHL Futures Draft by Bloomington, the Bulls’ Tier I sister franchise in that league. The Waterloo Black Hawks lead the USHL charge among the Sabres roster with three draft picks – Bobby Trivigno, Andy Stoneman and Caleb Rule.
I CAN’T WAIT TO SEE YOU AGAIN: Two of Todd Sanden’s players actually have experienced the Sabres’ program themselves, including Mitch Dolter, who played two years on Shattuck-St. Mary’s Midget AAA team to finish a five-year career in Faribault. Esposito-Selivanov and Bennett Norlin were among his teammates on last year’s roster, while Jack Robbel was a teammate of Dolter’s in 2014-15. Tyler Bump’s time in the Shattuck-St. Mary’s program ended in 2012-13 with the U16 program, but several of his teammates from that group are currently playing in the USHL and Division I ranks.
JACK BAUER, WHERE ART THOU: The Shattuck-St. Mary’s program counts 24 national titles as part of its haul over the last 17 years, spread over the school’s five different squads. The boys’ prep team, the most famous of the five, won its first USA Hockey national title in 1999, and has brought home eight more since then. The other four programs each won national championships last year, the first time in school history that four teams each brought home the top hardware in the same year. Bennett Norlin scored the final goal of the U16 Sabres’ 2015 championship run, the school’s first-ever at that level.
HOME-ICE ADVANTAGE: The location of tonight’s game certainly seems to favor North Iowa, though each of the first four games between the teams has been a hard-fought one. Each team has hosted two games in the all-time series, with each team hosting a game during the 2013-14 campaign – the home team has won all four meetings so far. Last year’s meeting saw North Iowa take its first lead in the third period, with returning Sabres forward Erik Dahl scoring the game-tying goal just a minute later. The first-ever meeting between the two on Nov. 13, 2013 was also the most lopsided of those meetings, a 6-2 Shattuck-St. Mary’s win.