MASON CITY, Iowa – The St. Louis Jr. Blues came within one shot of bringing home the Fraser Cup a year ago. This year, they’re the top team in the NA3HL’s Central Division, and have their eye on another trip to Chicago.
Suffice it to say, the Jr. Blues are a tough team to beat, but the North Iowa Bulls have had their number in the Barn. Up 3-2 after 40 minutes, the Bulls broke away with a third-period surge for a 6-3 win, North Iowa’s ninth in their last 10 meetings in Mason City.
The Bulls got their first power play just 2:29 into the contest, on a hooking call against Nathan Sargent. North Iowa went right to work, getting several shots on the net in a quick sequence four minutes in. Matt Dahlseide (Maplewood, Minn./North Iowa Bulls) finished it by batting in a loose puck in front of the net for the early lead.
The Jr. Blues tied it with 3:19 left in the first period, with Ivan Galaguzov sweeping a puck out of a crowd to Will Baginski, who was waiting in front to tap it past Dysen Skinner (Billings, Mont./Sioux Falls Jr. Stampede 18U).
It took just 77 seconds early in the second period for North Iowa to take control. The lead went to the Bulls for good after Jacob Wiethaupt’s high sticking call at the 4:19 mark of the second period. Just 20 seconds later, Carter Wagner (Lino Lakes, Minn./Minnesota Magicians) threaded the needle between two Jr. Blues in the slot before backhanding the puck in for the go-ahead goal.
The initial assist on that goal went to Peter Verstegen (Oshkosh, Wis./North Iowa Bulls), who handled his own business at 5:56 of the period after a pass to Tom Yurisich slipped past and ended up on the St. Louis blue line. Verstegen took the loose puck from there and ripped it over the shoulder of Jack Regan for a 3-1 lead.
A slashing call to Jack Giddings (Anoka, Minn./Anoka H.S.) not only allowed the Bulls to score a shorthanded goal, it allowed St. Louis to pick up its own power play goal. A pass from Blake Dangos found Hunter Muzillo all alone on the weak side, followed by a snap from the left-wing faceoff circle to make it 3-2.
The Bulls clung to the 3-2 lead for much of the second and the majority of the third period. A turnover at neutral ice helped to change that, with Matt Rozman (Edina, Minn./Edina Jr. Gold) pushing the puck ahead to Cam Fagerlee (St. Anthony, Minn./North Iowa Bulls), who slid it in underneath Regan for a 4-2 lead with 8:28 to go.
Jimmy McDermott (Dubuque, Iowa/Wisconsin Whalers) took advantage of a St. Louis miscue in front of the net just 26 seconds later, running the lead to 5-2 after Regan and a teammate failed to clear the puck away from the net. The run was complete at 16:07 of the final period, when Verstegen’s shot from the blue line found its way through the traffic and past Regan for a 6-2 score.
Sean Hofstetter and the Jr. Blues weren’t about to go out with a whimper, though, with Sargent bringing the puck up the ice on a 3-on-2 chance. Sargent skipped it across to Hofstetter on the weak side, whose one-timer beat Skinner with 2:57 to go to end the scoring.
Skinner closed out the night with 23 saves to pick up his third win in a row and move his record to 14-4-2-0. Verstegen had the big night for the Bulls with two goals and an assist, pushing his total to a team-best 28 goals with one game to go before the NA3HL’s Top Prospects event in Massachusetts. McDermott and Fagerlee closed out the night with a goal and an assist apiece.
On the St. Louis side of the ledger, Hofstetter had a goal and an assist, and Regan fell to 5-3-0-0 despite making 28 saves. The Jr. Blues are 30-8-1-2 with the loss, while the Bulls moved to 28-10-2-0 with their fourth straight win. North Iowa went 2-for-5 on the power play, scoring an additional goal one second too late. The Jr. Blues went 1-for-6 with the extra man on the ice.
The two teams get together again on Saturday night as North Iowa’s “Grateful Weekend” continues, with the opening puck drop set for 7:30 p.m. Live streaming coverage is available on HockeyTV, with free audio streaming on Mixlr.
Saturday’s game will feature a postgame Skate With the Bulls, plus a live jersey auction to benefit the Humane Society of North Iowa. It’s also Scout Night, and the Bulls’ buy-one-get-one-free ticket special continues. For advance tickets to Saturday’s game or any future Bulls home game, click here.
St. Louis 1 1 1 – 3
North Iowa 1 2 3 – 6
1st Period-1, North Iowa, Dahlseide 16 (Fagerlee, Blackowiak), 4:06 (PP). 2, St. Louis, Baginski 19 (Galaguzov, Monreal), 16:41. Penalties-Sargent Stl (hooking-minor), 2:29; Callahan Nio (head contact-minor), 8:17; Carlson Nio (boarding-minor), 14:18.
2nd Period-3, North Iowa, Wagner 5 (Verstegen, Studioso), 4:39 (PP). 4, North Iowa, Verstegen 27 (Studioso), 5:56 (SH). 5, St. Louis, Muzzillo 8 (Dangos, Hofstetter), 6:28 (PP). Penalties-Baginski Stl (roughing-minor), 2:02; Carlson Nio (roughing-minor), 2:02; Wiethaupt Stl (high sticking-minor), 4:19; Giddings Nio (slashing-minor), 5:24; McDermott Nio (checking from behind-minor), 8:08; Dahlseide Nio (head contact-minor), 10:55; Galaguzov Stl (cross checking-minor), 11:51; Jones Stl (roughing-minor), 19:35; Bogach Nio (cross checking-minor), 19:35; Fagerlee Nio (roughing-minor), 19:35.
3rd Period-6, North Iowa, Fagerlee 15 (Rozman, Carlson), 11:32. 7, North Iowa, McDermott 16 11:58. 8, North Iowa, Verstegen 28 (McDermott, Junker), 16:07. 9, St. Louis, Hofstetter 14 (Sargent, Moore), 17:03. Penalties-served by Biffignani Stl (unsportsmanlike conduct-minor), 4:39; Muzzillo Stl (roughing-minor), 8:33; Roo Nio (roughing-minor), 8:33; Biffignani Stl (fighting-major, fighting-ej), 14:07; Markiewicz Stl (slashing-minor, fighting-major, fighting (secondary)-gm), 14:07; Petronack Nio (fighting-major, fighting-ej), 14:07; Wagner Nio (fighting-major, fighting (secondary)-gm), 14:07; Baginski Stl (abuse of official-10 misc), 17:38.
Shots on Goal-St. Louis 12-7-7-26. North Iowa 9-12-13-34.
Power Play Opportunities-St. Louis 1 / 6; North Iowa 2 / 5.
Goalies-St. Louis, Regan 5-3-0-0 (34 shots-28 saves). North Iowa, Skinner 14-4-2-0 (26 shots-23 saves).
Linesmen-Cody Clark, Nicholas Meyer.