The North Iowa Bulls proved to be ready during all three scrimmages with NAHL teams last week, but the first game of the Showcase in Blaine MN did not start as smoothly as the Bulls fell to the Chicago Hitmen on Thursday, 3-1. Captain and Forward Kevin Mansolill scored the only goal for the Bulls in the second period of play, while the Hitmen’s goaltender Joe Olen turned away 22 of 23 shots en route for the victory in the first game of the Showcase for both teams.
The Chicago Hitmen got on the board first in this game thanks to a first-period goal from Ben Boukal. The puck was controlled by Collin Warner and passed to Phil Garza who then shifted the puck to Boukal who sent it to the net, where a screen shielded the view of Jackson Steltmann and allowed the puck to get past him for the goal.
Already trailing by a goal in the second period, the Bulls came out of the dressing room ready to play. Early on in the period, the Bulls had an opportunity to advance on the Hitmen after going on a 5-4 advantage and were able to do so. Kevin Mansolill buried a goal assisted by Patrick Sivets to tie the game at ones. The Bulls failed to seize the momentum as the Hitmen were able to fire off another goal by Mike Lozano, assisted by Nick Gangni, and Kyle Gonzales. The Bulls left the ice behind by 1.
The Bulls trailed through the entire 3rd period keeping the Hitmen working for their lead. The Bulls had an another power play opportunity halfway through the period when Brien Thompson of the Hitmen served a 2 minute penalty for head contact, but were unable to render a goal. The Hitmen took a 3-1 lead when Jeremy Edwards scored an empty net goal with 34 seconds in the game.
The Bulls will be back in action on Friday when they take on the Peoria Mustangs. Opening faceoff is scheduled for 9:15 PM.