MENOMONIE, Wis. – The floodgates have opened for the North Iowa Bulls, with the team’s fourth college commitment in a week, and the squad’s fourth commitment to the same college this season.
That college is Wisconsin-Stout, which has already picked up two players from North Iowa in the last week. Defenseman Joey Petronack has announced his commitment to the Blue Devils, giving the team its first blueliner among this year’s commitments. Petronack will begin playing for the NCAA Division III institution and Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference member beginning next season.
“He skates well and sees the ice well,” said Wisconsin-Stout head coach Terry Watkins. “I like him on the power play, and he has a gear that he doesn’t use much – when he needs to do something, he can get up and go.”
Petronack starred at Hill-Murray High School in Minnesota, captaining the team in his senior season in 2017-18. After taking the Pioneers to back-to-back state tournaments and a brief stint in Manitoba to begin his junior career, the White Bear Lake, Minnesota native found a steady home with head coach Todd Sanden’s Bulls. Petronack racked up 28 points in 38 games last season before adding seven more in a postseason run to the Fraser Cup semifinals. That run got the attention of the North American Hockey League’s Maryland Black Bears, who signed him to an NAHL tender this past April.
After a half-season away, Petronack rejoined the North Iowa roster shortly after Thanksgiving and picked up right where he left off, posting a goal and an assist in his return on December 6 against Alexandria. He has been more than a point-per-game contributor since returning to the Bulls, notching three points and eight helpers over 10 games this season.
“This one kind of snuck up on us. He hasn’t been back with us all that long,” said Sanden. “We’ve always known he’s a good player, and he’s a player who needs to work and develop the defensive side of his game. He’s been pretty dynamic offensively – he sees that side of the puck very well. That’s something that attracts college programs as well, because everybody’s looking for secondary scoring.”
His commitment brings the count to 16 North Iowa players who have made a commitment to Watkins’s program since the end of the Bulls’ inaugural season in 2011-12. Petronack joins Nick Bowlin and Matt Dahlseide in committing to UW-Stout within the past week, and Cam Fagerlee made them his college choice last month. The quartet will join former Bull Peter Verstegen, who is in his freshman year with the Blue Devils. UW-Stout goaltender Brady Meyers also played for North Iowa before making his commitment while with the Alexandria Blizzard.
More than 140 North Iowa players have landed in college hockey over the last nine years, including more than 70 who have made their college commitments while with the Bulls. That number includes eight North Iowa alumni who eventually reached the NCAA Division I level, including three who are currently playing for Division I teams.
The North Iowa Bulls congratulate Joey Petronack on his commitment to the University of Wisconsin-Stout, and wish him the best as he takes the next step in his academic and athletic career.