November 12, 2021 – 7:05 p.m. (Riverside Arena – Austin, MN)
November 13, 2021 – 7:30 p.m. (Mason City Arena – Mason City, IA)
AUSTIN BRUINS (11-4-1-1)
vs. NORTH IOWA BULLS (10-4-0-2)
BULLS vs. AUSTIN ALL-TIME: 1-0-1
NORTH IOWA MEDIA NOTES: FRIDAY | SATURDAY
NAHL STAT PACKS: FRIDAY | SATURDAY
IN A NUTSHELL:
North Iowa looks to knock off its new arch-rival and regain first place in the Central Division.
THIS WEEK’S PROMOTIONS:
North Iowa celebrates Military Appreciation Night on Saturday night against the Austin Bruins, with free admission for all active and retired military. The colors will also be presented prior to the game, as well as a brief video presentation prior to the national anthem.
THE HEAT IS ON:
There may be no hotter man in the league right now than Bulls forward Carter Rapalje, following a career weekend last Friday and Saturday. The Burlington, Vermont native scored a career-high four goals in Friday’s 6-4 victory, notching the first hat trick in the Bulls’ NAHL era, and he added another one the following night in a 6-3 win. Including his two-goal night at Aberdeen on October 23, he scored seven goals in fewer than nine full periods, and his stretch is the hottest for the Bulls since Cam Fagerlee’s three-game stretch from October 4-11, 2019, when he also tallied seven goals over three games. Coincidentally, Fagerlee is also the last Bull to post a four-goal game, coming in a March 2, 2019 tilt against the New Ulm Steel. That career weekend was enough for a Central Division Star of the Week award, following Hunter Garvey’s award last month, and those five goals rocketed him into a tie for fourth in the NAHL with 11 on the year.
After a brief cold spell, Michael Mesic has returned to the scoring column in a big way, notching five points last weekend against the Bobcats. His eventual game-winner on Saturday snapped a six-game streak without a goal following a Bulls victory in Minot on October 9. He notched back-to-back multi-point games against the Bobcats, his first since tallying three points September 15 against the Minnesota Wilderness in his NAHL debut.
DON’T CALL IT A COMEBACK:
Every inch will be earned in these battles, but gaining the upper hand early is a huge advantage in this particular matchup – North Iowa has scored the opening goal in 12 of its 16 games, winning 10 of those 12. Austin has scored the opening goal 10 times, winning eight of those games. Neither team has given up a single point when taking a lead to the third period, either – the Bruins are 8-0-1-1 when going to the third period with the lead, and the Bulls have successfully defended all nine of their leads at the second intermission.
YOU’RE KILLING ME, SMALLS:
Power play goals have been especially hard to come by in the Central Division, and they could really be hard to come by in these two games – two of the league’s top six penalty-killing units will match wits, with Austin ranking fifth (87.7 percent) and the Bulls one spot behind (87.0 percent). Even the Bruins’ scorching power play has cooled off a bit – since going 2-for-3 in their first meeting with North Iowa on October 1, Austin has gone just 5-for-45 (11.1 percent) on the man-advantage.