MASON CITY, Iowa – Lucas Bellig’s (Danville, Calif./Golden State U18) former teammates in the Tri-Valley Blue Devils program have been doing big things at the North American Prospects Hockey League Showcase in Blaine, Minnesota this weekend. With three wins on the weekend, only an 11 a.m. victory on Sunday stands between them and a perfect trip to the Midwest.
With a break in their schedule on Saturday night, though, they snuck away to the Mason City Multipurpose Arena to see their friend have a big night of their own.
Bellig finished a 6-1 win over the New Ulm Steel with a goal and two assists, in front of more than two dozen of his former teammates and coaches with Tri-Valley, a program based out of California with ties to the North Iowa ownership.
“My [defense] partner and I felt stuck for a bit, not getting on the board,” said Bellig. “It was good to finally break out and get there.”
One night after rattling off a pair of first-period goals against the Steel, the Bulls got off to a roaring start again in the rematch. North Iowa’s number-three line of Brady Snedden (Eagle River, Wis./Northland Pines H.S.), Garrett Freeman (Sartell, Minn./Breezy Point North Stars) and Lucas Jorgenson (Orono, Minn./Holy Family H.S.) teamed up on each of the Bulls’ goals in the first 20 minutes. Jorgenson tossed one in front for a tip-in from Snedden at 4:59 of the first period, and Freeman slid one in underneath Zac Hattan with 5:41 remaining to push the margin to 2-0.
The second period stayed at a two-goal margin most of the way, but a quick turnover in the slot allowed James Spaargaren to backhand one past Joe Daninger (Blaine, Minn./North Iowa Bulls) with 3:07 left in the period and trim the North Iowa lead to 2-1.
The breathing room for New Ulm was short-lived – with 45 seconds remaining in the period, Bellig’s shot from the right wing kicked out long to Brayden Uttech (Sun Prairie, Wis./Wisconsin Rapids Riverkings), who fired home the rebound from the left-wing faceoff circle and pushed the lead back to two goals.
Bellig added a goal to his haul just 3:25 into the third period, snapping one past Hattan from the left point and clipping a New Ulm body along the way.
“We’ve been working on rimming it up to the [defense], and Brayden did that,” said Bellig. “I was just trying to get it on the net, since I just saw a cluster and was trying to get a rebound.”
Just 48 seconds later, Carter Newpower (Cottage Grove, Minn./Park H.S.) took advantage of a slashing call against Marcus Mack and found Shota Kaneko (Tokyo, Japan/Team Japan U20) for a tap-in on the back post for a 5-1 lead. Newpower made his own debut on the score sheet with a rush up the right wing, moving to the slot and sniping it over Hattan’s glove with 5:44 remaining to finish off the scoring.
The Bulls’ vaunted penalty-killing unit came up large again, shutting down all five of New Ulm’s chances with the extra man while going 2-for-5 on their own power play. Daninger made 21 saves for his second win of the season, while Hattan closed out the night with 24 saves to drop to 0-4 for the young season.
North Iowa earned its third win in a row and moved to 4-1 on the season with the victory, while New Ulm dropped its fifth straight to open the campaign. North Iowa heads back on the road next weekend with contests at Willmar on Friday night and the Alexandria Blizzard on Saturday. Four of their next five games will take them up against the WarHawks, including their next home game on October 31. Both of next week’s games get underway at 7:10 p.m., with live streaming coverage on HockeyTV.
The return home comes on Halloween night, as the Bulls celebrate “Boos and Brews” at the Mason City Multipurpose Arena. Fans 21 and older will receive a free koozie with every purchase of two beers, and kids of all ages can take part in trick-or-treating on the concourse during the first intermission. To purchase tickets to any upcoming North Iowa Bulls home game, call 641-423-4625 or click here.
New Ulm 0 1 0 – 1
North Iowa 2 1 3 – 6
1st Period-1, North Iowa, Snedden 2 (Jorgenson, Freeman), 5:02. 2, North Iowa, Freeman 2 (Jorgenson, Snedden), 14:18 (PP). Penalties-Roitman Nio (tripping-minor), 7:19; Smidt Num (roughing-minor), 12:48.
2nd Period-3, New Ulm, Spaargaren 1 (Swenson, Gimberlin), 16:52. 4, North Iowa, Uttech 2 (Bellig, Sullivan), 19:14. Penalties-Luedtke Nio (holding-minor), 0:00; Smidt Num (charging-minor), 5:47; Kaneko Nio (boarding-minor), 12:58; Dorn Num (cross checking-minor), 19:48; Mohs-Messerli Nio (roughing-minor), 19:48.
3rd Period-5, North Iowa, Bellig 1 (Uttech, Luedtke), 3:25. 6, North Iowa, Kaneko 1 (Newpower, Mohs-Messerli), 4:19 (PP). 7, North Iowa, Newpower 1 (Bellig), 14:16. Penalties-Mack Num (slashing-minor), 3:56; Smidt Num (cross checking-minor), 8:32; Rauschenberger Num (high sticking-minor), 9:02; Nauss Nio (interference-minor), 11:59; Isogai Nio (tripping-minor), 15:45.
Shots on Goal-New Ulm 9-9-4-22. North Iowa 12-10-8-30.
Power Play Opportunities-New Ulm 0 / 5; North Iowa 2 / 5.
Goalies-New Ulm, Hattan 0-4-0-0 (30 shots-24 saves). North Iowa, Daninger 2-0-0-0 (22 shots-21 saves).
Linesmen-Grant Crowell, Samual Rankin.