ALEXANDRIA, Minn. – Typically, the second period is home turf for the North Iowa Bulls. While the Bulls always strive for a hot start, the group always seems to come alive in the middle portion of a contest. This weekend against the Willmar WarHawks and Alexandria Blizzard, though, North Iowa’s opponents controlled the second period, and Saturday’s installment was a costly one.
Alexandria scored three goals in the second period, all in the opening five-and-a-half minutes, and the Blizzard snapped a nine-game losing streak against the Bulls with a 4-2 victory at the Runestone Community Center. The overall winning streak also ended at four games for the Bulls, who fall to 5-2 with the loss.
Cal Nauss (Wayzata, Minn./North Iowa Bulls) snapped North Iowa into the lead with 4:09 left in the first period, with his wrist shot from atop the faceoff circles tipping off of the top of Joey Greilich’s mitt and into the net for a 1-0 lead. The Bulls only scored once in the opening 20 minutes, but the offense roared to a 14-6 shots advantage, including 13 of the last 15 of the period.
“The puck squirted through the middle and I saw a chance,” said Nauss. “I took it up and took it into the [Alexandria] zone and thought, ‘Why not give it a shot?'”
After that, though, Alexandria hopped into the driver’s seat. 50 seconds out of the break, a one-timer from Andrew Revering found Caleb Strong on the doorstep, and the Blizzard’s top scorer tapped it in for a tying goal.
Cole Lehmann grabbed the lead for the home team at 3:13 of the period, after a tripping penalty against Nauss – his shot from the top of the zone scooted down the slot to beat Evan Babekuhl (Long Lake, Minn./North Iowa Bulls) on his glove side and put the Blizzard on top by a 2-1 margin.
The lead doubled at 5:22 of the second period on a breakaway goal from Colin Tushie that saw the Prior Lake, Minnesota native race into the North Iowa zone and backhand one in under Babekuhl to push the lead to 3-1. The Bulls were able to answer back with a doorstep tap-in of their own from Carter Eha (Bloomington, Minn./North Iowa Bulls) to Hayden Fox (Anchorage, Alaska/Team Alaska U18) with a minute to go in the period.
Alexandria made up the ground with 17 shots in the second period, taking a 3-2 lead into the final intermission. While North Iowa battled to tie the game, Cole Klingbeil found the puck in a brief scramble in front of the net and jammed it into the net with 12:47 remaining on the third-period clock.
The Blizzard got a tremendous effort from Greilich in net, making 33 saves for his second win of the season. Babekuhl took the loss, making 32 saves of his own. Alexandria finished 1-for-3 on the power play, while North Iowa missed on both of their chances with the extra man. Alexandria climbed to 4-2-1-0 with the win, bouncing back from a 4-1 loss to Granite City the previous night.
“They just wanted it more than us tonight,” said Nauss. “We weren’t getting pucks out, doing what we want to do and what we need to do. We know how to do it, so it’ll be a long week to get back, but we’ll be ready next weekend.”
The Bulls return to the road on Friday, October 30 when they travel back to Willmar to face the WarHawks in the first of three straight games between the teams. The opening puck drop at the Willmar Civic Center is slated for 7:10 p.m., with live streaming coverage on HockeyTV.
North Iowa returns to home ice next Saturday as they celebrate Halloween with “Boos and Brews,” featuring trick-or-treating on the concourse during the first admission and free koozies with a purchase of two beers. To purchase advance tickets to any upcoming North Iowa Bulls home game, call 641-423-4625 or click here.
Updated news and information on the North Iowa Bulls’ 10th Anniversary season are always available at www.northiowabulls.com, and by following the team’s social media on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.
North Iowa 1 1 0 – 2
Alexandria 0 3 1 – 4
1st Period-1, North Iowa, Nauss 2 (De Schepper, Uttech), 15:51. Penalties-Newpower Nio (hooking-minor), 17:12; Kenny Alx (roughing-minor), 18:52; Freeman Nio (unsportsmanlike conduct-minor), 20:00.
2nd Period-2, Alexandria, Strong 6 (Revering, Rajala), 0:53. 3, Alexandria, Lehmann 4 (Strong, Kenny), 3:13 (PP). 4, Alexandria, Tushie 1 5:22. 5, North Iowa, Fox 4 (Eha, Aguilera), 19:02. Penalties-Nauss Nio (tripping-minor), 2:25; Strong Alx (tripping-minor), 17:04.
3rd Period-6, Alexandria, Klingbeil 2 (Greeder, Tschida), 7:13. Penalties-No Penalties
Shots on Goal-North Iowa 14-10-11-35. Alexandria 6-17-13-36.
Power Play Opportunities-North Iowa 0 / 2; Alexandria 1 / 3.
Goalies-North Iowa, Babekuhl 2-2-0-0 (36 shots-32 saves). Alexandria, Greilich 2-1-0-0 (35 shots-33 saves).
Linesmen-Evan Davis, Jacob Herzog.