THIS WEEKEND’S GAMES:
FRIDAY – North Iowa @ Willmar, 7:30 p.m.
SATURDAY – Willmar @ North Iowa, 7:30 p.m.
BULLS VS. WILLMAR ALL-TIME: 5-0-1
THIS WEEK’S PROMOTIONS: The Bulls are celebrating the holidays one last time this year with “Naughty and Nice Night” on Saturday. Get your picture taken with Santa Claus and/or the Grinch, and drop off your letters to Santa at the game. It’s also our annual YMCA members’ night – all YMCA members receive $2 off their admission with a YMCA membership card. For a schedule of upcoming promotions, click the “Game Day Fun” link at NorthIowaBulls.com.
SEE YA LATER: North Iowa fans might want to get out to the “Barn” to see their team on home ice while they can – Saturday’s game against the WarHawks is the last home contest of the calendar year for Todd Sanden’s team. When the new year starts, the Bulls will face New Ulm at home on January 4…and then not again in league play until February 1. There is one Wednesday night exhibition against Shattuck-St. Mary’s on the schedule during that gap, on Wednesday, January 16.
SHOWCASE SHOWDOWNS: The NA3HL Showcase schedule has been announced for North Iowa – the Bulls will play three games at the league’s annual showcase at the Schwan Super Rink in Blaine, Minnesota. Up first for the Bulls will be the South Division’s Mid-Cities Jr. Stars, with a 4 p.m. start time next Sunday afternoon. The Northeast Generals come from Massachusetts to Minnesota to take on North Iowa in the second game, the following day at 1:30 p.m. The final game features the Helena Bighorns against the three-time NA3HL champs, with an early start time of 11:45 a.m. Tuesday morning. All 36 teams in the NA3HL were paired up for their Showcase schedule with teams that come in with similar records or the same position in their respective division standings.
BEST OF TIMES, WORST OF TIMES: North Iowa’s top streaks continue as the Bulls head into a pair of games in which they’ll be heavily favored. Brendan Studioso’s point streak is up to 14 games, after scoring goals in each game last weekend against Rochester. Matt Dahlseide remains in the team points lead after scoring a goal on Friday and picking up an assist on Saturday – he’s now tallied points in 10 straight games. Jarod Blackowiak has notched points in eight straight games, and 12 of the last 13. If the North Iowa offense gets going, the Bulls could take control of these two games quickly – the WarHawks’ offense is ranked 34th out of the 36 teams in the league, scoring just 2.1 goals per game and averaging just 22.8 shots per outing.
A CENTURY OF STUDIOSO: Congratulations are in order for Brendan Studioso – the longest-tenured Bull on this year’s roster played his 100th game in a North Iowa uniform last Friday against the Grizzlies. Only three Bulls have ever played more than 100 games for North Iowa – Matt Kroska and Shane Bernhardson each enjoyed three-year careers in Mason City, with Kroska topping the list at 140 games as a Bull. Jimmy McDermott is the longest-tenured NA3HL player on the roster, though, playing 87 of his 109 career games for the Wisconsin Whalers.