MASON CITY, Iowa – One night after needing the bulk of the first period to get control of a 7-2 win over the New Ulm Steel, the North Iowa Bulls got the bounce they needed early in Saturday’s game.
North Iowa led from the 35-second mark of the game and rocketed to a 7-1 victory over the Steel, earning their 11th win of the season and 13th home win in a row. The victory was goaltender Caleb Mayer’s (Lakeville, Minn./Lakeville H.S.) first as a Bull, one week after taking the loss on New Ulm’s home rink in his junior debut.
As the Bulls worked down the ice and brought their defensemen to the bench on the game’s first line change, Max Savaloja (Eau Claire, Wis./Memorial H.S.) dug the puck off the end boards and fed it out to the doorstep for Garrett Freeman (Sartell, Minn./Breezy Point North Stars), who banged in the opening goal to give North Iowa the lead in the opening minute.
Savaloja found himself in a give-and-go down the left wing with Brayden Uttech (Sun Prairie, Wis./Wisconsin Rapids Riverkings) later in the first, and after a backhand poke toward the net and an odd bounce in front, Zach Foster juggled the puck and accidentally tipped it into his own net for a 2-0 North Iowa lead.
“My line’s really connecting right now,” said Savaloja. “We’ve got a really good group – everyone’s just connecting, and everyone seems to be having fun.”
The Bulls bookended the first period with a sneak attack, thanks to a short-side tally from Carson Jones (Eden Prairie, Minn./Kenai River Brown Bears) on the left wing that beat Foster with 1:11 remaining, sending the Bulls to the locker room with a 3-0 advantage.
A former North Iowa Bull took care of the scoring for the Steel, giving the visitors their only tally of the night at 6:32 of the second. Davis Smidt tossed one into the net from the left-wing hash marks, beating Mayer on his stick side to drop the lead to 3-1.
The Bulls pushed it right back to a three-goal game six minutes later, with Sota Isogai (Nagano, Japan/North Iowa Bulls) squirting one through at the 12:36 mark of the second, and Carter Newpower (Cottage Grove, Minn./Park H.S.) rushed in and slid in a goal of his own on the power play with 2:44 remaining to give the hosts a 5-1 lead going to the third.
Jones owned the final period for North Iowa, tallying a goal on a criss-cross rush through the Steel zone with 12:03 remaining. The 6-1 lead became a 7-1 lead with 3:38 left, thanks in part to an assist from Jones, who threw one to the slot from the right-wing half-wall and got a one-timer from Kyle Heffron (Rosemount, Minn./Totino-Grace H.S.) to cap the scoring.
The evening ended with fireworks, with the Bulls taking exception to Jake Zowin after the New Ulm veteran made contact with Mayer well after the play with 2:32 to go. Zowin received a 10-minute misconduct for his behavior, and Keshaun Scott and Gavin Wendorf (Richfield, Minn./Dauphin Kings) grappled their evenings to an early end just 12 seconds later.
The Bulls finished 1-for-6 on the man-advantage, one night after scoring three goals on the power play, but the Bulls finished up with another perfect mark at 4-for-4 on the penalty kill.
Mayer made 27 saves in the victory, while Foster stopped nine of North Iowa’s first 12 chances and was chased again after Jones’s first goal. Zac Hattan made 14 saves in his first relief appearance of the season. Jones had two goals and an assist in the game, while Caleb Huffman (Anchorage, Alaska/Team Alaska U18) and Jack Campion (Crystal, Minn./Armstrong H.S.) closed their evenings with three assists each.
The Bulls are tentatively scheduled for a road visit to Granite City on Saturday, November 28, but that game is in doubt thanks to the most recent COVID-related mandates from the Governor of Minnesota. Stay tuned to the North Iowa Bulls’ website and social media for the latest on the Bulls’ schedule heading out of the Thanksgiving holiday.
Updated news and information on the North Iowa Bulls’ 10th Anniversary season are always available at www.northiowabulls.com, and by following the team’s social media on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube. Click here to purchase advance tickets to any upcoming North Iowa Bulls home game.
New Ulm 0 1 0 – 1
North Iowa 3 2 2 – 7
1st Period-1, North Iowa, Freeman 8 (Savaloja, Luedtke), 0:35. 2, North Iowa, Uttech 5 (Savaloja, Huffman), 12:11. 3, North Iowa, Jones 3 (Huffman, Campion), 18:49. Penalties-Dorn Num (kneeing-minor), 5:51; Mohs-Messerli Nio (tripping-minor), 7:05; Smidt Num (tripping-minor), 9:34; Rauschenberger Num (kneeing-minor), 14:41.
2nd Period-4, New Ulm, Smidt 1 (Spaargaren), 6:32. 5, North Iowa, Isogai 8 (Mohs-Messerli, Wendorf), 12:37. 6, North Iowa, Newpower 6 (Huffman, Mayer), 17:16 (PP). Penalties-Freeman Nio (slashing-minor), 0:38; Henthorne Num (cross checking-minor), 9:23; Savaloja Nio (high sticking-minor), 9:45; Rauschenberger Num (roughing-minor), 10:07; Luedtke Nio (roughing-minor), 10:07; Collins Num (interference-minor), 16:08.
3rd Period-7, North Iowa, Jones 4 (Campion, Heffron), 7:57. 8, North Iowa, Heffron 3 (Jones, Campion), 16:22. Penalties-Lindstrom Nio (tripping-minor), 3:21; Scott Num (slashing-minor, fighting-major, fighting under 5 minutes-gm), 17:28; Zowin Num (unsportsmanlike conduct-10 minute misconduct), 17:28; Wendorf Nio (fighting-major, fighting under 5 minutes-gm), 17:28.
Shots on Goal-New Ulm 8-10-10-28. North Iowa 12-10-8-30.
Power Play Opportunities-New Ulm 0 / 4; North Iowa 1 / 6.
Goalies-New Ulm, Foster 2-2-0-0 (12 shots-9 saves); Hattan 0-5-1-0 (18 shots-14 saves). North Iowa, Mayer 1-1-0-0 (28 shots-27 saves).
Linesmen-Grant Crowell, Dylan Krikke.