ALEXANDRIA, Minn. – One would imagine after letting a late two-goal lead get away in Friday night’s 4-3 shootout loss to the Alexandria Blizzard that North Iowa had some frustration to take out in Saturday’s rematch.
The Bulls made their point time and again in their final regular-season meeting with the Blizzard, putting five goals on the board in the first period of an 8-1 win. The win could be the start of a brand-new winning streak for the Central Division leaders, while Alexandria’s 11-game spree came to a crashing halt. In fact, North Iowa nearly led wire-to-wire, with Tyler Bump (Prior Lake, Minn./North Iowa Bulls) burying the first goal of the night just 21 seconds in.
The veterans were the leaders of the show in Saturday night’s win. In a span of just 1:35 North Iowa extended the lead to 3-0, with back-to-back goals from two more veterans, Connor Clemons (Savage, Minn./Minnesota Magicians) at 4:36 and Josh Arnold (Roseville, Minn./North Iowa Bulls) at 6:11.
Mitch Dolter (Faribault, Minn./North Iowa Bulls) jumped back within a goal of the team lead with another tally at 10:17 of the period for a 4-0 margin. Barely two minutes later, Bump was waiting to put away a rebound on Cameron Fagerlee‘s (St. Anthony, Minn./Totino-Grace H.S.) initial shot, sending the game to the first intermission with a five-goal cushion.
Bump would only need 35 seconds out of the intermission to finish off the hat trick with North Iowa’s first power-play goal of the night and a 6-0 lead. A two-minute stretch of the third period would also prove very friendly to the Bulls, starting with a second marker from Clemons at 4:27.
Already with a 7-0 hole to dig out of, Blizzard penalties to Brett Meister and Brendan Payne just 13 seconds apart threw another opportunity wide-open for their visitors. North Iowa took advantage of their lengthy 5-on-3 opportunity with a power-play goal from Brendan Studioso (Mukilteo, Wash./North Iowa Bulls) at 6:29 to extend the lead to eight.
The defending NA3HL Forward of the Month would have the final say, though, as Logan Nelson busted up Colin Cain‘s (Hummelstown, Pa./N.J. Junior Titans U18) shutout with just 1:55 to go in the game, just 19 seconds after a slashing minor to Studioso. That would be the lone miscue for Cain in a 23-save performance. Former Bull Brady Meyers was peppered with 46 shots throughout the night, making 38 stops.
The win was Cain’s 18th of the season, pushing the first-year Bulls goaltender into fourth on the team’s single-season wins list behind only David Johnson’s 20-win season in 2015-16, and 25-win seasons for Chris Amsden (2013-14) and Matthew Bartels (2012-13). In all three cases, North Iowa went on to win a Silver Cup championship.
The win pushes the Bulls’ record to 27-0-2-2 and gives them 33 consecutive games without a regulation loss. North Iowa returns to action next weekend with a home-and-home Central Division series against the second-place La Crosse Freeze. The opening faceoff Friday night is scheduled for 7 p.m. in La Crosse, with live streaming coverage on HockeyTV.
North Iowa home game against La Crosse on Saturday begins at 7:30 p.m., with “Superhero Night” Freeze. Live streaming coverage will be available on HockeyTV, with free audio streaming on Mixlr. For advance tickets to that game, or any future North Iowa Bulls home contest, click here.