MASON CITY, Iowa – The theme on Saturday night for the North Iowa Bulls game was “5 for Fighting,” though that had more to do with the promotional deals for the fans than it did with the action on the ice.
The only fighting the Bulls had to do was to fight back from an early two-goal deficit. They did that, and gave the fans at the North Iowa Ice Arena some free hockey, taking down the Alexandria Blizzard by a 3-2 score in overtime. The Bulls exit the weekend with a 12-2-1-0 record, picking up their 16th win in their last 19 outings against the Blizzard in the process. Alexandria fell to 6-5-1-0 with the loss.
A wrist shot from Shane Birkeland on the left wing beat Dysen Skinner (Billings, Mont./North Iowa Bulls) high at 5:51 for the opening goal of the game, but before the teams were able to settle in after the restart, a turnover and a two-on-none rush allowed the Blizzard to grab the extra goal. Michal Trejbal made the extra pass in front of the net, and Brandon Connett buried the one-timer just 13 seconds later to double the lead.
North Iowa began its comeback late in the first period, with Jac Triemert (Woodbury, Minn./Woodbury H.S.) putting one away on a short pass out front from Ryan Hempel (Katy, Texas/Elliot Lake Wildcats) with 3:16 left on the clock to trim the lead to 2-1.
The Bulls only scored on one of their seven power play chances in the game, but it turned out to be a big one – with just 24 seconds left on a second-period slashing penalty to Caleb Strong, Cam Fagerlee (St. Anthony, Minn./North Iowa Bulls) pushed the puck past a defender to himself entering the slot before depositing the puck into the top half of the net at 7:44 to tie the contest.
The teams combined for 17 shots in the final 20 minutes of regulation, with the Bulls accounting for a dozen of them. However, it took until the final 45 seconds of overtime before the Bulls were able to send their 939 fans home happy. A give-and-go play between Lucas Wahlin (Woodbury, Minn./Hill-Murray H.S.) and Jordan Roo (Champlin, Minn./North Iowa Bulls) didn’t come together cleanly, but Wahlin was able to weave over to the left wing and jam in the game-winner under Ville Hyttinen, sending the remaining Bulls off the bench and flooding onto the ice to celebrate the final marker.
“They love to finish their hits,” said Wahlin. “They’re really physical, and we just brought it right back to them. It felt great to get a 3-on-3 win. There’s a lot of space out there, so you just have to use your speed and go around them.”
A night after leaving a game against New Ulm after giving up four goals by the halfway mark, Hyttinen looked masterful in making 32 saves despite the loss. Skinner recovered nicely from the first-period hiccup, making 24 saves and earning his fifth win of the season.
The Bulls return home next weekend for Friday and Saturday contests against the Rochester Grizzlies and Willmar WarHawks. Both games are scheduled for 7:30 p.m. puck drops at the North Iowa Ice Arena in Mason City. Live streaming of both games is available on HockeyTV, with free audio streaming on Mixlr.
North Iowa is celebrating the proud history of the “Barn” all month long with special appearances and ceremonial puck drops from personalities in the area’s junior hockey history. Next weekend, the billet families will be honored for their work in hosting the Huskies and Outlaws greats of past decades.
Updated news and information on North Iowa Bulls hockey is always available at www.northiowabulls.com, and by following the team on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube. To purchase advance tickets to next weekend’s games, or any future Bulls home game, call 641-423-4625 or click here.
Alexandria 2 0 0 0 – 2
North Iowa 1 1 0 1 – 3
1st Period-1, Alexandria, Birkeland 2 (Gronholz, Heidenreich), 5:51. 2, Alexandria, Connett 13 (Trejbal), 6:04. 3, North Iowa, Triemert 2 (Hempel, Vercellono), 16:44. Penalties-Isogai Nio (head contact-minor), 1:49; Duckson Alx (interference-minor), 8:27; Sanborn Alx (tripping-minor), 17:36.
2nd Period-4, North Iowa, Fagerlee 11 (Dahlseide, Wagner), 7:44 (PP). Penalties-Taraszewski Alx (high sticking-minor), 0:48; Strong Alx (slashing-minor), 6:08; Lehmann Alx (slashing-minor), 8:47; Birkeland Alx (high sticking-minor), 11:06; Trejbal Alx (roughing-minor), 11:48; Wagner Nio (roughing-minor), 11:48; Blahosky Alx (high sticking-minor), 12:48; served by Vercellono Nio (too many men-minor), 19:31.
3rd Period- No Scoring.Penalties-Sullivan Nio (tripping-minor), 13:54.
OT Period-5, North Iowa, Wahlin 10 (Roo, Stewart), 4:15. Penalties-No Penalties
Shots on Goal-Alexandria 9-4-12-1-26. North Iowa 16-9-5-5-35.
Power Play Opportunities-Alexandria 0 / 2; North Iowa 1 / 7.
Goalies-Alexandria, Hyttinen 2-3-1-0 (35 shots-32 saves). North Iowa, Skinner 5-0-1-0 (26 shots-24 saves).
Linesmen-Ian Carlson, Reid Schroeder.