THIS WEEKEND’S GAMES:
FRIDAY – Alexandria @ North Iowa, 7:30 p.m.
SATURDAY – Alexandria @ North Iowa, 7:30 p.m.
BULLS VS. ALEXANDRIA ALL-TIME: 22-5-1
THIS WEEK’S PROMOTIONS: This weekend is North Iowa’s “Pink the Rink” weekend, with the Bulls sporting special jerseys on Friday and Saturday night to benefit the American Cancer Society and the Relay for Life. Those jerseys will be auctioned off following Saturday’s game, with a postgame skate also scheduled for Saturday night. For a schedule of upcoming promotions, click the “Game Day Fun” link at NorthIowaBulls.com.
WEST SIDE STORY: This weekend is a vital piece of the West Division race when it comes to the Bulls and the Blizzard, but those points will be even more vital in keeping pace with the two teams above them. Both Rochester and Granite City will be heavily favored this weekend, as the Grizzlies head to Breezy Point for a Friday/Saturday pairing. Granite City plays just one game this weekend, heading to Willmar to face a WarHawks team that just picked up its first win of the season. Both Alexandria and North Iowa will need at least three points this weekend to improve their winning percentage for the season.
FIVES ARE WILD: The number 5 plays prominently into the storylines for this weekend, starting with the Bulls, who have scored power play goals in five straight games and are 10-for-their-last-21 with the extra man. North Iowa went 5-for-5 on the power play against Breezy Point last Saturday, a mark that Todd Sanden’s team has only reached three times before in franchise history. The Bulls’ single-game record for power play goals still stands at six, a mark set in a 10-3 win over the Twin City Steel on Dec. 8, 2012. The last time North Iowa notched five goals on the man-advantage, ironically, was against the Alexandria Blizzard in November of 2015 (an 11-3 win). As for the Blizzard, they come in on a five-game winning streak – their last loss came in a 7-4 defeat to the New Ulm Steel on Oct. 12.
LAST ONE THERE’S A ROTTEN EGG: The Bulls and Blizzard haven’t quite reached the one-third mark of the season, but the sample size is significant enough for better and worse – the first goal of the night will be extremely important for both teams. Each team has scored first in eight games this season, winning seven – that also means that each team has found itself in the early hole five times…and has only won one of those games.
TO BE THE BEST…: Alexandria comes into this weekend off of a sweep of the first-place Rochester Grizzlies, propelling the Blizzard into West Division title contention. Jeff Crouse’s team held on for a 5-4 win over Rochester Friday night on home ice before traveling to the Med City and beating the Grizzlies 5-1 on Saturday.