FRIDAY, SEP. 23 – 7:00 P.M., AFFTON ICE RINK (AFFTON, MO.)
SATURDAY, SEP. 24 – 7:00 P.M., AFFTON ICE RINK (AFFTON, MO.)
NORTH IOWA BULLS (1-1-0, 2 pts) (ROSTER, STATS)
@ ST. LOUIS JR. BLUES (3-1-0, 4 pts) (ROSTER, STATS)
IN A NUTSHELL: North Iowa continues its September road swing with a weekend set in St. Louis before opening the home season next weekend.
ALL-TIME SERIES: North Iowa leads, 10-4-0 (the Bulls have won nine of their last 10 meetings with St. Louis).
LAST WEEKEND’S RECAP: North Iowa nearly started its season with a sweep at the hands of the Peoria Mustangs, before a late surge Sunday afternoon pushed the Bulls over the brink and into the win column. Saturday’s game was an inauspicious start for Todd Sanden’s group, with a 7-3 loss – the Mustangs led wire-to-wire (almost literally) after scoring their first goal less than a minute into the contest. Owen Larson got the Bulls on the board for the first time with just 8 seconds showing on the second-period clock. Sunday saw the Mustangs get out to a 3-0 lead again before Mitch Parsons snapped the shutout with just over 12 minutes remaining in regulation. Connor Clemons had both the game-tying goal and the game-winner, on a penalty shot two minutes into overtime.
NEXT HOME GAME: North Iowa heads home next weekend for a three-games-in-three-days set against the Chicago Bulldogs – the 2016-17 home season starts with a celebration of the team’s 2015-16 accomplishments on Friday as the Bulls raise their Silver Cup national title banner.
COVERAGE: All North Iowa Bulls games, home and away, are streamed live at FASTHockey.com.
NEXT MAN IN: North Iowa fans may see the debut of goaltender Brady Meyers this weekend – the former Rochester John Marshall goaltender was instrumental in his team’s Big Nine conference championship last season, and spent time with the NAHL’s Austin Bruins during the preseason. Also yet to make his Bulls debut is forward Max Lerman, who opened the fall with the NAHL’s Minnesota Wilderness.
WELCOME BACK KOHEI: Making his return to the Bulls for the 2016-17 campaign, but yet to make his season debut, is Japanese native Kohei Sato, who had an electric Silver Cup tournament for the Bulls – Sato lit up some of the NA3HL’s best goaltenders for a tournament-high seven goals over the five-game stretch and would eventually tender with the Janesville Jets in early June. Sato proved he’s an accomplished sprinter on the all-weather oval this past May as well, qualifying for the Iowa high school track and field championships in the 100- and 200-meter dash events.
RELIABLE RETURNERS: St. Louis has a strong core group of players back from last season as well – nine players from last year’s team, including Tomas Loeffelman, who tied for the team points lead last season on the way to the Jr. Blues’ three-day appearance in the Silver Cup championship tournament. Goaltender Zack Young returns, and will be a hard one for many of the Jr. Blues’ Midwest Division opponents to solve – Young won 21 games last season, and teamed up with Ian Dvorak (who was traded to the Wisconsin Whalers in early February) to form one of the most potent goaltender combos in the league last year.
TWO PAIR: Clemons wasn’t the only Bulls rookie to notch a pair of points against Peoria last weekend – Steven Mordini and Zach Hayes each notched a goal and an assist last weekend – Mordini did his work in Saturday’s game and was also +1 in the win on Sunday, while Hayes chipped in his goal and assist in Sunday’s contest.
HARDWARE HEADLINES: Steven Mordini is already putting some hardware on his shelf despite his short time with the Bulls organization – Mordini was named the NA3HL’s Bauer Central Division Star of the Week last weekend after dropping a goal and an assist in the Bulls’ split at Peoria last weekend. Connor Clemons was named the division’s 2nd Star of the Week after tallying the game-tying goal and the winner Sunday against the Mustangs. Last week, Tomas Loeffelman was the Midwest Division’s Star of the Week as well, notching three goals and a pair of assists in a weekend sweep of the Cincinnati Thunder. Loeffelman was a key presence for St. Louis in their Silver Cup run last season, tallying eight points in as many postseason games for the Jr. Blues.