THIS WEEKEND’S GAMES:
FRIDAY – La Crosse @ North Iowa, 7:30 p.m.
SATURDAY – North Iowa @ La Crosse, 7:00 p.m.
SUNDAY (if nec.) – La Crosse @ North Iowa, 7:30 p.m.
BULLS VS. La CROSSE ALL-TIME: 18-2-0
THIS WEEK’S PROMOTIONS: North Iowa will wear special green championship jerseys to celebrate the Bulls’ three NA3HL titles and three national championships. Jerseys will be auctioned off after the game, with a special Postgame Skate with the Bulls scheduled as well. For a schedule of upcoming promotions, click the “Game
Day Fun” link at NorthIowaBulls.com.
SIGN ‘EM UP: NA3HL players have agreed to 10 North American Hockey League tenders this season, and two players will face off this weekend just as the ink dries on their signatures. For the Bulls, Aaron Swanson’s renewed agreement to play for the Amarillo Bulls became official this past week – Swanson played 22 games in Amarillo before heading to Mason City at the roster deadline last month. The Freeze also have a player headed up the junior hockey ladder next year, with Toon De Schepper’s agreement to join the New Jersey Titans next season. De Schepper has played 100 games in three seasons with La Crosse.
ICE IN HIS VEINS: NAHL teams aren’t the only teams chomping at the bit to bring in Bulls players, though – former North Iowa Bulls goaltender Josh Benson announced his commitment this Tuesday to join the Sacred Heart hockey program in the NCAA Division I ranks. He becomes the seventh former Bull to move on to Division I hockey, and three of those players are currently active at the D-I level. Benson has the Fairbanks Ice Dogs on the verge of an NAHL regular season title, with a seven-point lead on the Shreveport Mudbugs for the top spot in the league and just five games to go.
STARTING LINE: This week’s opponent for the Bulls is a group that did not start games well in its final four games of the regular season. The Freeze were outscored 10-2 in the opening 20 minutes of their last four games heading into the NA3HL playoffs, including a 4-0 gap in their game in Mason City on Mar. 2. Big starts were certainly a factor in their Central Division semifinal success against the Wisconsin Whalers, though, outscoring Wisconsin 5-1 in the first period in their two-game sweep.
CHASE FOR THE CUP: This is the third straight year that these two teams have met for a spot in the NA3HL’s championship tournament. There have been some close calls, but North Iowa has been able to get out with the win all four times – the last three playoff meetings between the Bulls and Freeze have been decided by a total of just five goals.