Bulls Battle Rebels, Look To Double Hot Start

September 16, 2021 – 4:30 p.m.
National Sports Center Super Rink – Blaine, MN

vs. NORTH IOWA BULLS (1-0-0-0)



COVERAGE: HockeyTV (video/$), Mixlr (audio/free)





IN A NUTSHELL: After winning its first-ever NAHL game yesterday, the Bulls go for a 2-0 start with a team making its return after a year off.


LAST TIME OUT: The Bulls opened a new era in their history yesterday with a 5-1 win over the Minnesota Wilderness – North Iowa peppered the Minnesota net early in the game, and tallied their first NAHL goal at 10:01 of the first period off a slot snipe from Logan Dombrowsky. The momentum in Wednesday’s game pivoted around the first intermission, with the Bulls flipping a 1-0 lead into a 3-0 advantage in just 29 seconds. With nine seconds left on the first-period clock, Michael Mesic beat Jacob Zacharewicz under the crossbar to close out the stanza, and an extra move in front of the net for Ryan Coughlin helped him beat Zacharewicz 20 seconds into the second period for the three-goal lead. The power-play unit came through in the third for the Wilderness, when Aaron Pionk’s shot down the slot clipped Charlie Erickson to beat Carsen Stokes at 8:12, but with 9:04 remaining, the North Iowa power play answered with a goal from Jack Mesic. Greg Japchen’s snap from the left point with 1:51 to go closed out the scoring. Mesic and Coughlin picked up a goal and two assists apiece, while Max Scott enjoyed a three-assist game in his North Iowa debut and Stokes made 23 saves for his first junior win.


NEXT HOME GAME:­ North Iowa opens its 2021-22 home schedule on Friday, September 24 against Aberdeen. That game kicks off the Bulls’ “1 Town, 2 Teams, 3 Days, 4 Games” weekend alongside the new Mason City Toros, with free schedule posters to be given away at Friday’s game.


LOOKING OUT FOR NUMBER ONE: The victory for Carsen Stokes was his long-sought first at the NAHL level, after leading North Iowa to an NA3HL national championship last season. Going just 2-2 during the regular season, Stokes rattled off eight wins in 10 decisions in the Fraser Cup postseason, including a 4-0 record and a paltry 0.99 goals-against average in the Fraser Cup tournament. He was on the Wilderness roster much of the 2020-21 season but found himself behind Division I goalies Zacharewicz (Brown) and Kaleb Johnson (North Dakota).


WILL THE EMPIRE STRIKE BACK?: Jamestown will be looking to rebound after a stinging loss to the Springfield Jr. Blues in their season opener on Wednesday night – the Jr. Blues rattled off four goals in the opening period of a 7-0 victory as both teams return from a COVID-induced hiatus last season. The Rebels managed just 14 shots, including a 16-3 margin in the first period. Jonathan Panisa paced the Springfield offense with a goal and three assists.


CLEAN HOUSE: This year’s Jamestown group is a nearly clean break from the group that hit the ice for Joe Coombs in 2019-20 – only two players (Brett Morich, Reid Lune) from the Rebels’ last roster were back in the lineup again yesterday. Morich played junior hockey in Utah last season, posting 37 points for the USPHL’s Outliers, while Lune took his talents to the NA3HL and the Peoria Mustangs, posting 30 points. Also part of that team for five weeks was North Iowa star Lucas Wahlin, who now finds himself on the preseason roster in the USHL for the Lincoln Stars.


LAYING THE FOUNDATION: With seven of the top nine scorers gone from the Amarillo Bulls’ final season, the initial question this year was how well the Bulls’ returning role players would step into primary roles – that question seems to be working itself out with 10 returning Bulls on the North Iowa roster this year. In fact, two of the top three scorers from yesterday’s game – Scott and Coughlin – are Amarillo returners.Michael Mesic’s older brother, Jack, is a third-year Bulls blueliner.


SHOW ME SOMETHING: Despite a recent losing skid, the NAHL Showcase has traditionally been a successful week for the Rebels – Jamestown has lost in each of its last five appearances at the Showcase, but won two of their four outings in the 2018 event, and went a perfect 4-0 in 2017 as the Philadelphia Rebels. That group started the year with 11 straight wins, and ran away with the East Division before falling in a division finals sweep to the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights.