AUSTIN, Minn. – Tomorrow isn’t just a new day. It’s a new year.
The North Iowa Bulls are ready to turn the page on 2021 and return to their winning ways in 2022, ending the calendar year with a 5-2 loss to the Austin Bruins at Riverside Arena, closing the old year with losses in eight of their final nine outings. Two power-play goals made the difference in the game, giving the Bruins a chance to take the lead after two different game-tying goals from North Iowa.
Austin gained the lead first at 6:16 of the opening period, when Damon Furuseth gathered up a rolling puck just above the goal line, snapping a sharp-angle shot past Hunter Garvey (San Diego, Calif./Amarillo Bulls) from his left for the 1-0 lead. The Bulls answered back with 7:10 remaining in the period, when a pass from Logan Dombrowsky (Stevens Point, Wis./Amarillo Bulls) below the goal line caught Dylan Gajewski (Woodhaven, Mich./Austin Bruins) out front – Gajewski dragged the puck across the slot looking for an opening before depositing it past Klayton Knapp’s right skate to tie the game.
The Bruins took the lead back heading to the locker room, when Sutter Muzzatti fired a successful wrist shot down the slot with 4:58 remaining in the period, giving Austin the 2-1 advantage at the first intermission.
North Iowa played down a goal for the majority of the second period before Michael Mesic (Plymouth, Mich./Honeybaked 16U) tied it with a shot of his own down the slot at 11:33 – Knapp dove back across the goal after trying to find a rebound to his left, but his efforts went unrewarded and the Bulls equalized the game again.
With 3:32 remaining in the period, Austin capitalized on a power play for the first time in the contest, with Joey Potter (Pittsburgh, Pa./Twin City Thunder) in the box serving a holding call. Muzzatti was able to finish a drive down the left wing, pushing the puck into the net to take the lead for the final time in the game. The New Year’s Eve contest saw a few fireworks just seconds later, after a dispute between the teams on the ensuing faceoff – Matys Brassard’s high cross-check on the draw touched off a skirmish at center ice that saw three players from each team head to the locker rooms with misconduct penalties for roughing.
After coming out of the locker room with a 3-2 lead, the Bruins tacked on two more goals in the third – with Gajewski in the box on a hooking infraction, Walter Zacher’s shot from the left-wing half-boards found its way through the traffic to the back of the net for a two-goal Austin lead just 61 seconds out of the break. Muzzatti closed the book on his 2021 by finishing an odd-man rush on a pass from Isaak Brassard with 3:07 remaining.
Muzzatti had a hand in four of the Bruins’ five goals in the game, posting an assist on Furuseth’s goal in addition to his hat trick. Austin went 2-for-4 on the power play Friday night, holding the Bulls without a goal on their three power play chances. Mesic maintained his hold on the North Iowa scoring lead, notching a goal in his third straight game after posting one in each of the team’s games at Bismarck before the holiday break.
Garvey made 26 saves, taking the loss for the Bulls, while Knapp earned his sixth win of the year with 27 saves for Austin. North Iowa dropped to 14-11-1-2 heading into the new year, while Austin ran its record to 17-10-1-2. After closing 2021 against each other north of the state line, the teams get together again on the Iowa side of the line on Saturday night to open 2022, with the opening puck drop slated for 7:30 p.m. at the Mason City Arena. Live streaming coverage is available on HockeyTV and Mixlr.
Saturday’s game is a Tie Dye Tilt as the teams go toe-to-toe to touch off 2022 – fans who wear tie dye to the game will receive $5 off their admission at the ticket window, and tie-dyed hoodies will be available for purchase at Brutus’s Locker Room Sponsored by the Christie Door Store. Domestic beer and Bud Light Retro Seltzers will be marked down to just $3, and fans can also enjoy a postgame party skate on the Bulls’ home ice from 10 to 11 p.m. Advance tickets to Saturday’s game and all upcoming North Iowa home games are available now – to purchase advance tickets to any future Bulls home game, call 641-423-4625 or click here. Updated news and information on North Iowa Bulls hockey are always available at www.northiowabulls.com, and by following the team’s social media platforms on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.
North Iowa 1 1 0 – 2
Austin 2 1 2 – 5
1st Period-1, Austin, Furuseth 6 (Muzzatti, Wallace), 6:16. 2, North Iowa, Gajewski 11 (Dombrowsky, Stacey), 12:45. 3, Austin, Muzzatti 8 (Simmons-Fischer), 15:02. Penalties-Mesic Nio (tripping-minor), 18:29.
2nd Period-4, North Iowa, Mesic 10 (LaRusso, Rapalje), 11:33. 5, Austin, Muzzatti 9 (Wallace), 16:29 (PP). Penalties-Potter Nio (tripping-minor), 3:27; Zacher Aus (tripping-minor), 6:08; Morrissey Aus (holding-minor), 13:22; Potter Nio (holding-minor), 15:46; LaRusso Nio (roughing-minor, unsportsmanlike conduct-10 minute misconduct), 16:32; Mesic Nio (roughing-minor, unsportsmanlike conduct-10 minute misconduct), 16:32; Mesic Nio (roughing-minor, unsportsmanlike conduct – 10 minute), 16:32; Brassard Aus (roughing-minor, unsportsmanlike conduct-10 minute misconduct), 16:32; Brassard Aus (roughing-double minor, unsportsmanlike conduct-10 minute misconduct), 16:32; Simmons-Fischer Aus (roughing-minor, unsportsmanlike conduct – 10 minute), 16:32.
3rd Period-6, Austin, Zacher 1 (Larkin, Muzzatti), 1:01 (PP). 7, Austin, Muzzatti 10 (Brassard, Jasenec), 16:53. Penalties-Gajewski Nio (hooking-minor), 0:43.
Shots on Goal-North Iowa 10-11-8-29. Austin 14-11-6-31.
Power Play Opportunities-North Iowa 0 / 3; Austin 2 / 4.
Goalies-North Iowa, Garvey 10-8-1-2 (31 shots-26 saves). Austin, Knapp 6-3-0-1 (29 shots-27 saves).
Linesmen-Kendall Glaser, Cameron Johnson.