BISMARCK, N.D. – Going into Saturday night’s game between the Bismarck Bobcats and North Iowa Bulls, both teams were hunting for momentum on the power play to take with them into the second half of the season.
The Bobcats went big at the V.F.W. Sports Center, netting three power play goals on the way to a 5-1 win over the Bulls, making for a happy holiday for the hosts in Saturday’s game. The victory stretches Bismarck’s winning run on home ice to four victories in their last five home outings, while North Iowa will have two weeks to reload as it looks to shed a stretch of seven losses in eight games.
Both teams got power play chances at the middle of the first period, but it was Bismarck that capitalized on its opportunity – with 26 seconds left on a roughing call against Jack Mesic (Plymouth, Mich./Amarillo Bulls) and several bodies parked in front of the net, defenseman Michael Neumeier tunneled a shot through the traffic that beat Hunter Garvey (San Diego, Calif./Amarillo Bulls) on his stick side, giving the Bobcats a 1-0 lead with 6:30 on the first-period clock.
North Iowa controlled the pace in the second period with 13 shots on goal, but the Bobcats carried a 3-0 lead to the locker room for the second intermission. Neumeier picked up a second goal at 8:09 of the second period, walking the puck down the right-wing boards and finding a path to the net before depositing it into the upper half of the net.
The Bobcats went to the back door for their scoring opportunities the rest of the way, with Owen Michaels playing the puck across the slot to Ben Troumbly for a back-side one-timer and the three-goal margin with 8:19 remaining in the period.
Bismarck killed off North Iowa 5-on-3 advantages both nights, and capitalized on both ends of its own 5-on-3 in the third period. With Greg Japchen (Doylestown, Pa./Amarillo Bulls) and Sean Vlasich (Upper Saddle River, N.J./Amarillo Bulls) serving penalties in the early minutes of the final stanza, Neumeier added an assist to his haul with a pass to the back post and a tap-in from Jake McLean at the 5:13 mark. Already on the right-wing post, Patrick Johnson fed the puck across the goal mouth for a second backdoor tap-in from Eddie Shepler just 35 seconds later, extending the Bobcat lead to 5-0.
The Bulls did get one back with 13:08 remaining, when a pass down the zone found Japchen in front of the net – after only a touch from Japchen, Bobcat goaltender Oskar Spinnars Nordin was able to kick the puck away from the net. Carter Rapalje (Burlington, Vt./Amarillo Bulls) was not able to settle the bouncing puck for a shot, but Michael Mesic (Plymouth, Mich./Honeybaked 16U AAA) was, throwing it past Spinnars Nordin to break up the shutout and dent the Bismarck lead.
In all, Bismarck finished 3-for-7 on the power play, its second three-power-play-goal game in as many weeks, while the Bulls closed the night at 0-for-4. Garvey took the loss for North Iowa, making 31 saves on 36 Bismarck shots, while Spinnars Nordin earned his second win of the year with stops on 32 of 33 North Iowa shots.
“It was a struggle,” said forward Jack Campion (Crystal, Minn./Mason City Toros), who earned his first point in the North American Hockey League with an assist in Friday’s game. “All of the guys learned a lot this weekend, so we’re going to bring that into the new year. We’ve got some stuff to work on.”
In addition to Neumeier’s big night, Troumbly picked up his first goal of the season, as well as an assist for Bismarck. Michaels and Johnson netted two assists apiece as Bismarck rose to 9-17-1-1 for the year. The Bulls fell to 14-10-1-2, with Michael Mesic picking up his ninth goal of the year.
The first half doesn’t mathematically end for the Bulls until January 7, but it ends the first half in practice with the entire North American Hockey League set to take next week off. There is still a game to go in 2021 as well, as North Iowa travels to Austin to square off with the Bruins on New Year’s Eve, opening the season’s second half on the same night the teams close the calendar year. That game is set for a 7:05 p.m. puck drop at the Riverside Arena in Austin, Minnesota.
The Bulls return home January 1, opening up the brand new year with a home game against the Bruins and a postgame party skate. Tickets for that game and all upcoming North Iowa home games are on sale now – to purchase advance tickets to any upcoming Bulls home contest, call 641-423-4625 or click here. Updated news and information on North Iowa Bulls hockey are always available at www.northiowabulls.com, and by following the team’s social media platforms on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.
North Iowa 0 0 1 – 1
Bismarck 1 2 2 – 5
1st Period-1, Bismarck, Neumeier 2 (Huglen), 13:30 (PP). Penalties-Beacom Bis (tripping-minor), 9:43; Mesic Nio (roughing-minor), 11:56.
2nd Period-2, Bismarck, Neumeier 3 (Troumbly, Michaels), 8:09. 3, Bismarck, Troumbly 1 (Michaels, Johnson), 11:41. Penalties-Morich Nio (kneeing-minor), 2:59; Roepke Nio (roughing-minor), 4:39; Michaels Bis (roughing-minor), 4:39; Morich Nio (fighting(instigator, fighting-major, fighting (instigator)-gm)-minor, fighting-major, fighting (instigator)-gm), 14:51; Ziskie Bis (fighting-major, fighting-10 misc), 14:51; VanRooyan Bis (high sticking-minor), 16:17; Beacom Bis (hooking-minor), 16:45.
3rd Period-4, Bismarck, Mclean 5 (Neumeier, Pietila), 5:13 (PP). 5, Bismarck, Shepler 11 (Johnson), 5:48 (PP). 6, North Iowa, Mesic 9 (Rapalje, Japchen), 6:52. Penalties-Mesic Nio (hooking-minor), 2:33; Japchen Nio (roughing-minor), 3:43; Vlasich Nio (cross checking-minor), 4:37; Roepke Nio (high sticking-major, high sticking-gm), 6:09; Kernan Bis (roughing-minor), 6:09; Beacom Bis (tripping-minor), 12:24.
Shots on Goal-North Iowa 11-13-9-33. Bismarck 12-7-17-36.
Power Play Opportunities-North Iowa 0 / 4; Bismarck 3 / 7.
Goalies-North Iowa, Garvey 10-7-1-2 (36 shots-31 saves). Bismarck, Spinnars Nordin 2-1-0-1 (33 shots-32 saves).
Linesmen-Casey Schumacher, Eric Steele.