THIS WEEKEND’S GAMES:
FRIDAY – St. Louis @ North Iowa, 7:30 p.m.
ST. LOUIS JR. BLUES, 30-7-1-2 (ROSTER, STATS)
@ NORTH IOWA BULLS, 27-10-2-0 (ROSTER, STATS)
COVERAGE: HockeyTV (video/$), Mixlr (audio/free – Saturday only)
BULLS vs. ST. LOUIS ALL-TIME: 15-7-2
THIS WEEKEND’S PROMOTIONS: North Iowa returns to the “Barn” on Friday and Saturday night, February 15 and 16, as we celebrate our “Grateful Weekend” with Grateful Dead-inspired jerseys, to be auctioned off Saturday night to benefit the Humane Society of North Iowa. Tickets at the door are also buy one, get one free for both games this weekend. For a schedule of upcoming promotions, click here.
CROSSING THE LINES: North Iowa’s games this weekend against St. Louis are part of a rare jaunt out of West Division play. The Bulls play six games against each team in the West, for a total of 36 in-division games. Four games (two home, two road) against St. Louis and Peoria, plus their three games at December’s NA3HL Showcase, make up their 47-game slate. It’s the first time since the Showcase that the Bulls have faced a squad from outside the state of Minnesota.
WELL-FED: North Iowa alumnus Timothy Santopoalo is back stateside, playing his second weekend with the Watertown Wolves of the Federal Hockey League. Santopoalo tore up the fourth-level Division 2 circuit in Sweden, tallying 23 goals and 14 assists in just 17 games for Svegs IK. He now joins a Wolves squad that has won two FHL championships and ranks third in the six-team circuit heading into a three-game set against the Elmira Enforcers this weekend. Santopoalo played in all three games at the Carolina Thunderbirds last weekend, notching a pair of assists.
GUARANTEE GAMES: The Bulls are close to officially locking down their spot in the postseason – they’ll do it by the end of the weekend all on their own if they have to, but a little help from the Alexandria Blizzard would certainly be appreciated. The fifth-place Blizzard have 45 points through 40 games – the best they can do before the end of the regular season is 59 points. North Iowa already has 56 points, meaning two wins this weekend would lock the Bulls into their eighth straight trip to the Fraser Cup Playoffs. St. Louis has already guaranteed its spot in the postseason, with 63 points in the standings and seven games to go. Wisconsin can do no better than 58 points this season, meaning the Jr. Blues are officially in, and Coulee Region is in with its victory on Thursday.
DON’T CALL IT A COMEBACK: The Jr. Blues are the top team from last year’s Fraser Cup championship tournament to return for this season. The national champion Metro Jets joined the remainder of the former East Division in a jump to the USPHL this past offseason. The Jets topped St. Louis in overtime in last year’s title game.