NA3HL SILVER CUP TOURNAMENT
Bulls Daily 3-30
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THURSDAY, MAR. 30 – 7:30 P.M., CANLAN ICE SPORTS (ROMEOVILLE, ILL.)
BINGHAMTON JR. SENATORS (45-1-1, 91 pts) (ROSTER, STATS)
vs. NORTH IOWA BULLS (35-10-2, 72 pts) (ROSTER, STATS)
IN A NUTSHELL: After Wednesday’s loss, the Bulls are playing for their Silver Cup lives against the hottest team in the NA3HL.
ALL-TIME SERIES: First-ever meeting (Binghamton: first year in NA3HL).
LAST NIGHT’S RECAP: The Yellowstone Quake won their first-ever game at the Silver Cup national championship tournament, and they knocked off the defending national champs to do it. The Quake, who went 0-3 last year, bookended a 4-2 win with a pair of goals from Tony Dahlberg, starting just 6:08 into the game. Brendan Studioso and Connor Clemons each tallied goals in the second period to put the lead in the Bulls’ hands, but their lead lasted just over a minute – Curt Greenbush would bury one from the left wing to tie the game with 4:08 remaining in the second to tie the game at 2. Pablo Pantoja scored his sixth goal in as many postseason games at the 3:21 mark of the third period to give his team the eventual winner, and Dahlberg closed it out with one more tally at 12:22 of the third.
THIS WEEKEND’S TOURNAMENT: North Iowa is playing in Pool B at the Silver Cup tourney, losing to the Yellowstone Quake on Wednesday 4-2. The two newcomers from last year’s NA3EHL are also on the schedule this week, with the Bulls facing Binghamton (N.Y.) on Thursday at 7:30 and Long Beach (N.Y.) on Friday at 7:30. The top two teams in each of the two pools will play in the semifinals Saturday afternoon, with a champion to be crowned Sunday afternoon at 1:00.
COVERAGE: All North Iowa Bulls games, home and away, are streamed live on HockeyTV. Silver Cup tournament games will be streamed exclusively on HockeyTV. Bulls play-by-play voice Austin Draude will have the call for all of the team’s games in Romeoville, starting about 10 minutes before the opening faceoff.
GRUDGE MATCH: The Bulls and Quake met last year in their tournament opener as well, with very different results. North Iowa allowed the opening goal of the night from Nicholas Elliott just 2:23 in, but back-to-back goals from Kohei Sato ensured the Bulls would never again relinquish the lead. This year was the first in North Iowa’s five Silver Cup trips that they’ve dropped the opening contest.
DO IT FIRST, DO IT BEST: It’s been awhile since North Iowa has started a Silver Cup tournament game with a lead – in each of the last eight games, the Bulls’ opponent has been the one to gain the upper hand first, including at all five games of last year’s Silver Cup tourney. The last time the initial goal went to the Bulls at a Silver Cup game was back in 2015, in a 2-0 shutout of the West Michigan Wolves.
LOOKIN’ FOR SOME HOT STUFF: Tonight’s opponent for the Bulls will be the hottest team in the league, both in terms of momentum and firepower – the Binghamton Jr. Senators are making their Silver Cup debut this year after being absorbed from the NA3EHL during the offseason. It’s been a pretty good run down the stretch for the Sens, who have won their last 28 games and have not been defeated since the 3HL Showcase in December. Their road to the tournament ran through the two-time defending NA3EHL champion Jersey Shore Wildcats – Binghamton scored 36 goals in their four Northeast Division playoff games, but 28 of those came on the first weekend against Roc City.
SCOUTING THE SENATORS: Offense will no doubt be the name of the game, especially for the Senators, who boasted three 100-point scorers during the regular season. Leading scorer Connor Landrigan is a returner from last season, when the team was named the Ice Miners and played in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. The second-leading scorer on the team should be a familiar name to Bulls fans – Dominik Bogdzuil tallied 49 points a year ago, tying for the lead on the Rochester Ice Hawks roster. This year, he’s up to 119 points, including 43 goals. Their 324 goals (6.9 per game) tied with St. Louis for the highest mark in the league, and their power play mark (82 goals) was also head and shoulders above the rest of the 48-team circuit. The penalty-kill for the Jr. Senators, though, leaves a bit to be desired – their 74.6-percent penalty-killing rate ranks 10th from the bottom in the league, well below that of any fellow division champ.