MASON CITY, Iowa – Before the North Iowa Bulls can start each season, there are always a few important questions that have to be answered: Who will they play? Where? When?
Those have been answered with Monday’s release of the 2018-19 schedule, which will feature 47 total contests, including 22 home games against eight opponents. Among those games is the earliest home opener in Bulls history, against the New Ulm Steel on Saturday, September 29.
The home schedule for the Bulls’ eighth season of NA3HL hockey is about as fan-favorable as can be, with 12 Saturday home dates and 10 Friday night home games. For the first time in three years, the home schedule will end on a Saturday, instead of with a three-in-three weekend wrapping up on Sunday. This year, the season finishes with a home weekend against the Peoria Mustangs March 8 and 9, to complete a five-game homestand in Mason City.
North Iowa will play five road games against four different opponents in the time leading up to that first home contest, with the first two scheduled for Saturday, September 15 and Sunday, September 16 at the Mustangs at Peoria’s Owens Center.
Games against Minnesota-based teams will be far more frequent than they have been in recent years, with the Bulls moving back to the West Division. North Iowa and their division brethren will see each other six times apiece this season, and the Bulls will play four games apiece against Peoria and the defending Fraser Cup runner-up St. Louis Jr. Blues. 36 of the 47 games will be played against teams from the Land of 10,000 Lakes.
This year’s schedule features some new faces – the Bulls square off with the Breezy Point North Stars for the first time since the 2015-16 season, and will face both the Willmar WarHawks and Peoria Mustangs after each dropped off of the schedule last season.
Another foe this year is a familiar opponent with a new identity – after an ownership change during the offseason, the Rochester Ice Hawks have re-emerged as the Rochester Grizzlies, the NA3HL sister club to the NAHL’s Austin Bruins.
Not included in Monday’s schedule release were the opponents for this year’s NA3HL Showcase, scheduled for December 16-18 at the Schwan Super Rink in Blaine, Minnesota. Opponents and game times for those games will be determined at a later date.
Also not on the official schedule are the Bulls’ annual pair of exhibition games against the Shattuck-St. Mary’s prep school from Faribault, Minnesota. The Sabres will visit North Iowa on Wednesday, January 16, and the Bulls will make their trip north to complete the home-and-home set two weeks later. 73 former Shattuck-St. Mary’s players have been drafted by NHL teams, and 10 SSM alumni are currently playing in the National Hockey League.
Individual-game tickets will go on sale, and the promotional dates for the Bulls’ 2018-19 home schedule, will be finalized in the coming weeks. Season tickets for this year are already on sale – click here for season ticket pricing and information. Updated news and information on North Iowa Bulls hockey is always available at NorthIowaBulls.com.