2017-18 Bulls Weekend Preview: Games 21 & 22 vs. Wausau



FRIDAY – Wausau @ North Iowa, 7:30 p.m.
SATURDAY – Wausau @ North Iowa, 7:30 p.m.



After two games in Wausau, it’s the RiverWolves’ turn to travel in the head-to-head series, as they make their first visit ever to Mason City.

North Iowa leads, 15-0-0 (third meeting since team moved to Wausau; franchise played in Romeoville, Ill. as the Chicago Bulldogs from 2013-17).

North Iowa never lost a game against the Chicago Bulldogs, and after one weekend the Bulls are also undefeated against their successors in Wausau. The RiverWolves dropped a 5-1 decision to the Central Division frontrunners Friday night, in a game that featured 96 total shots on net and Dayton Honkanen’s first goal of the season. That goal came with just 32 seconds left in the first period, but the eventual game-winner came from Mitch Dolter just 42 seconds out of the break. Drew Scites made 40 saves, with only a second-period shot from Owen Routheut sneaking past. The visitors did better yet the following night, despite “only” a 3-1 win – North Iowa tossed 63 shots on net, with Henry Baribeau making saves on 60 of them. It wasn’t a wire-to-wire win, but the Bulls did their best to get it there – Connor Clemons gave his group the initial lead just 1:10 into the contest. After an equalizer from Matt Irwin with just over seven minutes to go in the first, Jarod Blackowiak delivered the eventual game-winner with just 24 seconds left on the clock.

Friday is “Support Your School Night,” with a chance to win recess with the Bulls – our “No Shave November” contest will also be decided, with a Bulls jersey on the line. The Bulls will wear specialty jerseys this weekend, which will be auctioned off after Saturday’s game to benefit the Worth County Full Strut chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation. For information on all upcoming Bulls promotions, visit NorthIowaBulls.com.

As the Bulls and RiverWolves square off against each other for the very first time, this weekend marks the second half of a two-week home-and-home between the Central Division foes. Wausau hosted last weekend’s contests at the Marathon Park Arena – it’s the fourth time in franchise history that the Bulls have played an opponent four straight times, and it’s not even the first time in the regular season. The Bulls faced Granite City in four straight in March of 2015, holding off the Lumberjacks in a three-game series before meeting up again with the ‘Jacks in the opening game of the Silver Cup tournament. The Bulls swept Quad City in four straight in 2013, winning two in Davenport before sweeping the Jr. Flames on home ice the next week. The Bulls also opened the 2012-13 campaign against Granite City after dropping a three-game series to the Lumberjacks in their inaugural playoff run.

Jarod Blackowiak has been on a tear since joining the Bulls, and is being rewarded handsomely for it this week. Blackowiak has notched a point in his last nine games in a North Iowa sweater, and has put away six goals in his last five games, leading to a Central Division Star of the Week Award Wednesday and a recall to the Austin Bruins on Wednesday. Blackowiak played two games for the Bruins at the NAHL Showcase in September, scoring a goal in a 4-3 exhibition loss to the U.S. National Team Development Program’s under-17 squad.

After seeing Matt Dahlseide come in to face Todd Sanden’s team early this month, Sanden traded for the former Blizzard forward on Wednesday. Moving to Alexandria is Bryceton Butkiewicz, who scored two goals against his new team in their two-day matchup. Since then, though, Butkiewicz has battled a cold spell with just one point in his last six games. Dahlseide brings some real scoring punch to the lineup, with 16 points in 12 games. Among his biggest games this year are a four-point performance against New Ulm in October, and three points against Granite City on Nov. 8.

With 17 wins in the books this year, Todd Sanden stands just four wins away from reaching 300 for his career as the Bulls’ bench boss. That total includes postseason wins in the Silver Cup and USA Hockey national tournaments, but not exhibition games such as the Bulls’ annual tilts against Shattuck-St. Mary’s (which include two wins over the Sabres all-time). Sanden is a three-time national champion with the Bulls, after winning three Jr. B national titles in Minnesota in the 1990s and serving a stint as the head coach of the USHL’s Dubuque Fighting Saints near the end of the decade.

All North Iowa Bulls games, home and away, are streamed live at HockeyTV.com. Saturday’s game will also be audio-streamed at no charge through Mixlr – click the “Listen Live” link at NorthIowaBulls.com, or go directly to the Bulls’ audio homepage at mixlr.com/northiowabulls.