MASON CITY, Iowa – With 36 teams in the North American 3 Hockey League and 22 home games for each team, there are 792 games to schedule league-wide from the beginning of September to the middle of March. Even as the league begins its 10th season, it takes some time to dot all those Is and cross all those Ts.
The wait has been worth it, though, with the release of the North Iowa Bulls’ schedule Monday afternoon. The Bulls will play eight different teams this season – that total includes all five teams from the NA3HL’s West Division, as well as Rochester, St. Louis and Peoria from the Central Division. The Grizzlies moved to the Central after the loss of the Evansville Jr. Thunderbolts franchise and the move of the Wisconsin Whalers franchise to Sheridan, Wyoming during the offseason.
As usual, the home schedule is very fan-friendly, with 10 Friday night and 11 Saturday night home games in Mason City. The last of the Bulls’ 22 home games is a Sunday matchup, on March 1 against the Willmar WarHawks. The home season at the “Barn” begins October 4 against that same Willmar club.
The home schedule will be especially heavy in November (six home games) and January (five home games). For the second year in a row, the Bulls will hit the home ice on Black Friday, a November 29 contest against the New Ulm Steel.
November also marks the first time since the inaugural 2011-12 campaign that North Iowa has played a weeknight game during the week of Thanksgiving – this year’s contest is a Thanksgiving Eve road contest at Willmar. However, the schedule will be without a New Year’s Eve contest for the second consecutive season.
One quirk in the schedule is a familiar one – the first six games of the season will be played away from home, starting with a weekend road trip to face the Breezy Point North Stars on September 13 and 14. However, the end of the regular-season schedule reveals a new quirk – a road trip. This will be the first season in the Bulls’ nine years on the ice that the regular season will end with a road game. This year, those road games are Friday and Saturday, March 6 and 7 at the Granite City Lumberjacks.
Also on the schedule for this season are North Iowa’s three games at the NA3HL Showcase, scheduled for December 15 to 17 at the Super Rink in Blaine, Minnesota. The dates have been set aside for those games, but matchups will not be announced until around Thanksgiving. All three games will count in the league’s regular season standings, rounding out the slate of 47 games per team.
The NA3HL Top Prospects showcase has also been set aside, for February 17 and 18 in Attleboro, Massachusetts. No games are scheduled for North Iowa on the weekend immediately following that event.
The Bulls’ ninth season on the ice in North Iowa is rapidly approaching. Season tickets are still available by calling the front office at 641-423-4625, or by clicking here. The latest news and information on North Iowa Bulls hockey are always available by visiting northiowabulls.com, and through the Bulls’ social media channels on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.