MASON CITY, Iowa – After snagging two big points on Friday night and moving into sole possession of third place in the NA3HL West Division, North Iowa needed a big follow-up on Saturday to defend its new spot in the standings.
The Bulls got just that, with 31 saves from Connor Poczos (Austin, Minn./North Iowa Bulls) and a pair of goals each from Peter Verstegen (Oshkosh, Wis./North Iowa Bulls) and Jarod Blackowiak (Eden Prairie, Minn./North Iowa Bulls) in a 4-1 win.
With the win, the Bulls climbed to 10-5-0-0 on the season and dropped the Blizzard to 8-7-0-0. North Iowa’s current winning streak is up to five games, with two more potential wins coming up next week against a last-place Willmar WarHawk club. Those two games will wind down a seven-game homestand at the North Iowa Ice Arena.
Blackowiak snuck one in just under the crossbar just 35 seconds into the game to open the scoring and set an early tone for the night. On a long delayed-penalty play, Riley Scanlon rifled one in to tie the game at 1-1 with just 46 seconds remaining in the period.
At 9:10 of the second period, Blackowiak struck again, sneaking another one over the shoulder of Kyle Hayden to give the Bulls the lead they would not relinquish.
“As soon as I got the puck, I picked my head up and saw what was open,” said Blackowiak. “It all got created by my linemates, so a great job from them.”
Verstegen got into the act with a goal of his own on the doorstep just 2:24 before the second intermission, giving North Iowa some extra cushion heading to the third period. Elias Thompson’s five-minute fighting major allowed the Bulls a huge power play opportunity, and Cam Fagerlee (St. Anthony, Minn./North Iowa Bulls) set Verstegen up for a power play marker at the 5:12 mark of the third.
“I thought it was a great game tonight,” said Blackowiak. “It was a great team win by everybody, and I got some great passes from my [linemates] to get me the puck and I buried it.”
With 13 goals on the season, Verstegen is now in a five-goal lead over his nearest teammates, and the Bulls have now scored a goal on the man-advantage in six straight games. North Iowa was 1-for-5 with the extra man on the ice on Saturday, while Alexandria ended the night at 0-for-7. The Bulls have now killed off 16 straight power play chances for opposing teams heading through Election Day.
Two big point streaks continued on Saturday as well – Brendan Studioso (Mukilteo, Wash./North Iowa Bulls) picked up a pair of assists, running his point streak to seven straight games. Jimmy McDermott (Dubuque, Iowa/Wisconsin Whalers) had two assists of his own, and has now notched a dozen points over his last five games.
Poczos is now 5-0-0-0 for the year after stopping all but one Blizzard shot in Saturday’s game. Hayden fell to 4-4-0-0 on the year, making 37 stops on 41 North Iowa scoring chances.
Willmar will make its first visit to Mason City this season with next Friday and Saturday night’s tilts at the “Barn.” Both games are set for 7:30 p.m. puck drops, with live streaming coverage on HockeyTV. Saturday night’s game will also be audio-streamed for free on Mixlr. For advance tickets to next weekend’s games or any future Bulls home game, click here.
Alexandria 1 0 0 – 1
North Iowa 1 2 1 – 4
1st Period-1, North Iowa, Blackowiak 2 (Studioso, McDermott), 0:35. 2, Alexandria, Scanlon 5 (Mattson, Connett), 19:14. Penalties-Stewart Nio (hooking-minor), 5:19; Thompson Alx (cross checking-minor), 7:45; Brandt Nio (cross checking-minor), 7:45; Meister Alx (checking from behind-minor), 12:29; served by McDermott Nio (too many men-minor), 14:19; Bogach Nio (cross checking-minor), 15:56; Brandt Nio (slashing-minor), 19:14.
2nd Period-3, North Iowa, Blackowiak 3 (Studioso, McDermott), 9:10. 4, North Iowa, Verstegen 12 (Roo, Bogach), 17:36. Penalties-Taraszewski Nio (interference-minor), 3:25; Curry Alx (cross checking-minor), 5:43; Ropka Alx (roughing-minor), 11:56; Rozman Nio (roughing-minor), 11:56; Studioso Nio (roughing-minor), 12:09; Ropka Alx (cross checking-minor), 15:05; Taraszewski Nio (slashing-minor), 18:34.
3rd Period-5, North Iowa, Verstegen 13 (Fagerlee, Dahlseide), 5:12 (PP). Penalties-Thompson Alx (fighting-major, fighting-ej), 4:43; Blackowiak Nio (high sticking-minor), 8:22; Meister Alx (roughing-minor), 9:26; Kruse Alx (tripping-minor), 13:15; Bogach Nio (roughing-double minor), 15:05.
Shots on Goal-Alexandria 11-13-8-32. North Iowa 13-24-4-41.
Power Play Opportunities-Alexandria 0 / 7; North Iowa 1 / 5.
Goalies-Alexandria, Hayden 4-4-0-0 (41 shots-37 saves). North Iowa, Poczos 5-0-0-0 (32 shots-31 saves).
Linesmen-David Mack Darcy, Mitchell Hunt.