THIS WEEKEND’S GAMES:
FRIDAY – Willmar @ North Iowa, 7:30 p.m.
SATURDAY – North Iowa @ Willmar (at Litchfield, Minn.), 7:30 p.m.
BULLS vs. WILLMAR ALL-TIME: 9-0-1
TWO HOME OPENERS: The Bulls and WarHawks have combined to play 11 games so far this season, and both teams’ entire resumes have been built on the road. Willmar will play its home opener on Saturday evening, after winning four of their first five contests. The only loss for the WarHawks came in their season opener, a 5- 4 shootout loss to Breezy Point four weeks ago. Marquez Ginger scored the game-winner for Willmar against the Wausau RiverWolves with 1:09 to go in overtime last Saturday, sending Kirk Olimb’s team to a 3-2 win in the extra session.
THAT’S TWO HOME OPENERS EACH: As it turns out, each team will celebrate a second home opener this season – Willmar’s second home opener is likely to come next Saturday against the New Ulm Steel. The WarHawks will be the home team in Saturday’s contest, but the game has been moved to the Civic Arena in nearby Litchfield due to renovations at the Willmar Civic Center that have not yet been finished. The Bulls will get to celebrate a second home opener right after their scheduled move downtown during the Christmas break.
HELLO, HARRISON: A key North Iowa defenseman from last season’s team will be making his return this weekend, as Harrison Stewart suits up after beginning the season with the Amarillo Bulls. The Rockford, Illinois native was tendered by Amarillo last January, and played two games with the Bulls in the North American Hockey League this season. He provided an assist on a key goal at the NAHL Showcase, helping the Bulls to a 4-2 win over the Johnstown Tomahawks. Stewart was an All-West Division defenseman last year, racking up 33 points during the regular season, and scoring goals in each of the Bulls’ pool-play games at the Fraser Cup national championship tournament.
WELCOME BACK, WAGNER: Also making a late return for the Bulls this weekend will be Carter Wagner, who tallied nearly a point per game for the Bulls in the second half of last season. The Lino Lakes, Minnesota native played the first half of his season in the NAHL with the Minnesota Magicians, and also made a brief stop in Odessa. Wagner played three games for the Jackalopes to start this season after tendering with Odessa last January.