Bulls All-Decade Nominees: Goaltenders (Day 1)

May 24, 2021

DAY 2  ||  DAY 3  ||  DAY 4  ||  DAY 5


If there’s an “OG” among the Bulls’ all-time goaltender list, Matt is it. Not only does Bartels hold team records for the most games played (58) and most wins (41) among North Iowa netminders, but he also led the Bulls to their first national championship in 2013. The Ontario, California native earned all 11 postseason wins that season after racking up 25 victories in the regular season, and followed an incredible 96-minute, 59-save performance against Helena in the national semifinals with a 38-save showing the next afternoon for the national title in a 6-2 win over the Twin Cities Northern Lights.

ADAM CARLSON (2012-13)

What defines greatness? Is it what a player achieved as a Bull, or is it the resume he built over the course of his career? For Adam, the latter is what placed him on this list – Carlson played a single game for the Bulls, on September 22, 2012. It was, simply put, uneventful – Breezy Point scored two goals in 11 minutes of Carlson’s relief appearance, ending his Bulls career at the second intermission of a 6-5 shootout win over the North Stars. However, his accomplishments since – two seasons in the North American Hockey League, an NCAA Division I season at Mercyhurst, and 70 professional wins in the ECHL and AHL – make him one of the most decorated former Bulls of all-time.

CHRIS AMSDEN (2013-15)

At 6’4″, Amsden is the second-tallest goalie in North Iowa history – scoring on him was a tall task, to say the very least. Amsden went 25-2 in the Bulls’ historic 45-win season in 2013-14, leading the team to its second straight Silver Cup title with a goals-against average of just 1.89, moved up to the NAHL with the Minnesota Magicians, and returned to the Bulls to win 16 more regular-season and postseason matchups on the way to another national championship in 2015 and a four-year NCAA Division III career at Gustavus Adolphus College in his hometown of St. Peter, Minnesota.


It’s quite possible that no North Iowa goalie had more fun doing his job than David – as part of one of the NA3HL’s most dynamic tag-team partnerships, Johnson helped the Bulls to back-to-back national titles in 2015 and 2016 behind an unreal 31-2-1 record, including 20 wins in 2015-16 without a single regular-season loss. His 10 career shutouts remains the team’s all-time record. His 31 saves in the 2016 Silver Cup national title game against the Metro Jets capped a dominant junior career and propelled him into a lengthy NCAA Division III career at Wisconsin-Eau Claire.


When David Johnson needed a partner to tap into the ring, Tommi Ahlgren was always ready to go. The Finnish phenom won “only” 29 games in his two-year Bulls career, but he left an indelible mark on the North Iowa record books during his two years with the team. His 12-1-1 record in 2014-15 was just as impressive as his 2.09 goals-against average and his .923 save percentage. His 17-2-2 record the following year was almost as out-of-sight as his 1.17 goals-against mark, his .958 save percentage and his eight shutouts, all of which remain single-season team records. His .944 career save percentage and his 1.55 career goals-against average remain in the Bulls record books. Ahlgren would play three seasons in net for NCAA Division III Wisconsin-Stout.

JOSH BENSON (2016-17)

So how do you top a duo like David Johnson and Tommi Ahlgren? You make history – eight different goaltenders plied their trade for the Bulls during the 2016-17 campaign, but none left quite the mark that Josh Benson did. The Stillwater, Minnesota native played seven games for Todd Sanden’s team…and won every single one of them. After allowing barely a goal-and-a-half a game, the NAHL’s Fairbanks Ice Dogs came calling, and Benson would end up with 38 NAHL wins and lead the Ice Dogs to within two wins of the 2018 Robertson Cup championship. He soon landed an NCAA Division I roster spot at Sacred Heart University in Connecticut, with 37 collegiate wins over the last three seasons.

COLIN CAIN (2017-18)

The Hummelstown, Pennsylvania native played only one season of junior hockey, and made the most of it. Cain’s 27 wins in 2017-18 are still the Bulls’ single-season team record, and his .935 save percentage and 1.78 goals-against average that year rank among the top single-season marks in North Iowa history. His three collegiate seasons at St. Olaf College, however, have yielded just two appearances.


Dysen held off steady competition in both of his seasons with the Bulls in one of the most understatedly dominant careers of any North Iowa player. Skinner won 18 games in 26 appearances on the way to the Fraser Cup semifinals in 2018-19, and played every minute of the postseason with five more victories. The following season, Skinner rose above a spirited push from Joe Daninger and Evan Babekuhl to go 10-2-2 with a 1.82 goals-against average through the 2019 NA3HL Showcase. He never appeared for the Bulls again – with starter Samuel Vyletelka away at the World Junior tournament with Team Slovakia, Skinner was called up to the Minnesota Magicians to lead the team into the NAHL’s holiday break. Instead, he usurped the starting spot entirely, earning 12 of the Magicians’ final 13 wins that season. The Montana native landed a commitment to Wisconsin-River Falls last season, and earned an all-WIAC nod in his first NCAA Division III campaign.


“Babs” had the benefit of some extra time on the roster, but make no mistake – his spot on North Iowa’s all-time leaderboard is quite well-earned. Babekuhl ended his Bulls career with 35 wins, second only to Matt Bartels, and his 52 career appearances is also second only to Bartels. After posting seven wins in 2018-19, his 16 wins in 2019-20 led the team in helping the Bulls to their seventh division championship in nine years. His race for the record came up just a bit short this past season, with 12 more wins before running into hot streaks in net from teammates Max Gutjahr and Carsen Stokes late in the year. Babekuhl will begin his NCAA Division III career next season at Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota.