Post Game Report 2-18
WILLMAR, Minn. – Just five minutes into the second period, the Willmar WarHawks had a lead, some insurance, and some swagger in a search for a weekend sweep at home against the defending Silver Cup national champions.
So much for that.
The Bulls unloaded on their hosts with 46 shots in the contest and six unanswered goals in a 6-2 victory, picking up their 30th win of the season. North Iowa’s hats are off to Connor Clemons (Savage, Minn./Prior Lake H.S.) as well – Clemons racked up three goals in the Bulls’ four-goal second stanza, his first hat trick since a nine-game weekend with three hat tricks at Chicago back in October.
Drew Scites (Plymouth, Minn./Prior Lake H.S.) and company almost escaped the first period unscathed, until Jacob Dobberstein tallied his 12th goal of the season with just 20 seconds remaining before the first intermission. Dobberstein hit a baker’s dozen at the 4:46 mark of the second period, but the offensive production from the WarHawks came to an early end with that goal.
Clemons began his outburst by stuffing a short-distance chance in front of the Willmar crease at 5:37 of the second period, and Braxton Collins (Eau Claire, Wis./Coulee Region Chill) would tie the game by swatting in a bouncing puck in the slot at the 7:12 mark of the second period.
A small fracas at the 8:40 mark of the second period resulted in a major cross-checking penalty and an early exit for Willmar’s Riley Tigrett, and it would lead directly to the eventual game-winning goal. At 9:29 of the period, Sean Mallonee (Kennewick, Wash./North Iowa Bulls) fed one to Clemons on the left side, who buried the one-timer for a 3-2 lead. A pass off the side of the goal frame found Clemons on the doorstep barely six minutes later, with another tap-in giving Clemons his third goal and the Bulls a 4-2 intermission lead.
In the opening 2:12 of the third period, Mallonee’s pass from the left wing found Nick Klishko (San Diego, Calif./Amarillo Bulls) on his way into the slot for his first goal in a North Iowa uniform, and Brendan Studioso (Mukilteo, Wash./Dallas Stars Elite) would bang in a rebound on a later shot to make it a four-goal game. The final 17:48 would feature nothing in terms of scoring, but the Bulls did get 14 shots on the Willmar net in the final 20 minutes to finish off their barrage.
“Coach [Todd Sanden] told us to just keep it simple, just to chip pucks and get it deep,” said Klishko. “We were outplaying them, and Coach was thinking that too. We just had to stick to the process and get it deep, and get after it. We just need to keep playing our game – keep things simple and keep shooting the puck on net. I think we did really well with that in the last period and that’s why we scored so much.”
Scites eventually earned his second win with the Bulls and first in more than a month, stopping 26 WarHawk shots. Klishko finished with a goal and two assists, while Mallonee left the ice with four assists on North Iowa’s six goals. It’s the fifth year in a row that North Iowa has won 30 games in a regular season – only Sanden’s first Bulls team in 2011-12 failed to earn 30 wins, and even that group took home the “W” 29 times during the regular season.
The five-game Bulls road trip ends Thursday and Friday night at the Wisconsin Whalers. The opening faceoff both nights is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. at the Oregon Ice Arena in Oregon, Wisconsin. All Bulls games, home and away, are streamed live on HockeyTV – Bulls home games and select road games are also audio-streamed free on Mixlr.