SATURDAY – North Iowa @ Rochester, 7:05 p.m
COVERAGE: HockeyTV (video/$)
NEXT HOME GAME: The Bulls return home on Friday and Saturday, February 14 and 15 for a series against the St. Louis Jr. Blues – Bulls fans are invited to “Show Your Love” for Friday’s Valentine’s Day contest, while Saturday’s game showcases the area’s Hometown Heroes. For a schedule of upcoming promotions, click here.
FEELING RIGHT AT HOME: Home-ice advantage has truly meant something in this brief series since the Rochester Grizzlies opened for business last season. The home team has won all three contests this year, and won all three games in last year’s West Division Semifinals. The home team has walked away with at least one point in the last eight head-to-head matchups, with the Bulls taking an overtime loss in the final regular-season meeting last year. Rochester has been an especially dangerous team at home anyway this season, winning 15 of 17 in the Med City.
WHO’S ON THE POWER PLAY HERE?: The power play may not be a comfortable place to be for either team in tonight’s contest – North Iowa’s mark of almost 36 percent still ranks fifth in the league, and even Rochester has scored on almost a quarter of its power play chances. However, the Grizzlies rank near the top of the league with a dozen shorthanded tallies, and the Bulls are up to seven shorthanded goals after popping another one on the penalty kill Thursday night.
WELCOME, WE’VE BEEN EXPECTING YOU: As the roster deadline nears across the league, the Bulls have begun adding pieces for the stretch run. Defenseman and former Minnesota Magician Daniel Eckerline made his NA3HL debut Thursday night, notching an assist on his second shift as a Bull. Norwegian native Kyrre Hellerud made his North Iowa debut Friday night in the Bulls’ win at Alexandria – Hellerud played the first half of the season with the Amarillo Bulls of the NAHL. Finally, Erik McHenry suited up for the first time Friday, backing up Joe Daninger – McHenry is a Mason City native, and a senior at nearby Clear Lake High School.
STREAK-BREAKERS: The Bulls have built a new winning streak on the backs of their wins over the Alexandria Blizzard, and now North Iowa has a chance to cool off a Grizzlies group that is getting hot at just the right time. Rochester has won five in a row since falling in North Iowa’s new arena on January 4, including a win last weekend against West-leading Granite City. The Bulls also ended Mathias Backstrom’s eight-game winning streak in that early-January get-together.