THIS WEEKEND’S GAMES:
SUNDAY – North Iowa vs. Mid-Cities, 4:00 p.m.
MONDAY – North Iowa vs. Northeast, 1:30 p.m.
TUESDAY – North Iowa vs. Helena, 11:45 a.m.
COVERAGE: HockeyTV (video/$)
BULLS AT NA3HL SHOWCASE ALL-TIME: 17-6-1 (first-ever meeting vs. all three teams)
NEXT HOME GAME: North Iowa returns to home ice on January 4 for “Cinemania Night” against the New Ulm Steel, featuring appearances from some of your favorite movie characters, including the Minions, Frozen’s Olaf, Spiderman and Spongebob Squarepants. For a schedule of upcoming promotions, click here.
THE SEASON SO FAR: After a 5-5 start, North Iowa has surged into second place in the NA3HL West Division, and this week’s games could lead to some major separation in the standings. The Bulls have two red-hot goaltenders heading into the Showcase, with Dysen Skinner riding a six-game winning streak and Connor Poczos sitting at 6-0 in seven starts. Matt Dahlseide has the longest active point streak at 12 games, and he’s six points ahead of Brendan Studioso for the team’s scoring lead. Studioso had a 14-game point streak snapped at Willmar last Friday. With 20 goals (eight on special teams), Peter Verstegen is the top goal-scorer heading to the season’s second half.
JUDGING THE JUNIOR STARS: One word describes the Mid-Cities M.O.: “Lockdown.” The Jr. Stars have some solid offensive and power play numbers, but their penalty-killing unit and defensive work this season are nothing short of impressive. The race in the South Division has been super-tight, but at 1-5-1 in games decided by two
goals or fewer, there are a lot of opportunities that have gotten away from Mid-Cities in the first half of the year.
SPEAKING IN GENERALITIES: Northeast’s specialty is…well…their special teams. Their 10 shorthanded goals are near the top of the NA3HL leaderboard, and other teams have had trouble taking advantage of the Generals’ power play unit. Three of the top 20 scorers so far this year will be donning Northeast Generals uniforms.
BIG NEWS: While Mid-Cities prides itself on its defense and Northeast handles its business on special teams, it’s all about the offense for Helena. The Bighorns make it a point to get the early advantage, and keep plugging away once they have it. Helena is at or near the top of every offensive list in the league, and the power play will challenge even the most stringent penalty-killing unit. Helena is also fourth in the league with 60 third-period goals.