BREEZY POINT, Minn. – It’s always hard to know exactly what one will see from a team in the first game of the season. The North Iowa Bulls showed a lot in their 2019-20 debut, though, racking up 71 shots in a 9-0 win at the Breezy Point North Stars on Friday evening.
The Bulls scrapped for opportunities in the opening half of the first period, but took the majority of the opening stanza to beat Breezy Point netminder Griffin Foster. Finally, with Evan Sivets (Medina, Minn./Tampa Bay Juniors) in the penalty box serving two minutes for a high stick, Matt Dahlseide (Maplewood, Minn./North Iowa Bulls) found Cam Fagerlee (St. Anthony, Minn./North Iowa Bulls) for a one-timer to close out a 3-on-1 chance with 7:03 remaining in the first period.
That goal, and back-to-back markers from Mason Enright (Farmington, Minn./Farmington H.S.) and Zachary Simon (Orono, Minn./North Iowa Bulls) in the final 18 seconds of the period, only served to open the floodgates. The Bulls racked up 22 shots in the opening 20 minutes, and allowed only four from their hosts.
Lucas Wahlin (Woodbury, Minn./Hill-Murray H.S.) made it 4-0 after another scoreless 11:31 of the second period, with the visitors finally notching a power play goal to go with their early shorthanded tally. Dalton Saltness (Forest Lake, Minn./Forest Lake H.S.) buried one from Foster’s left to make it 5-0 in the waning moments of the period.
Nick Bowlin (Oakdale, Minn./North Iowa Bulls) added on with his first goal of the new year at the 5:55 mark of the third period. Enright became the first Bull this season to notch a multi-goal game, weaving into the faceoff circle to Foster’s left and sneaking one into the top corner.
“I was just hoping to start off the season with a good win with the boys,” said Enright. “With execution and crisp passes, we got it done.”
A weak-side pass with 5:31 remaining found Ryan Hempel (Katy, Texas/Elliot Lake Wildcats) on the doorstep for a quick tap-in for an 8-0 lead, and Wahlin’s goal from the right-wing faceoff circle with 3:13 to go closed out the scoring.
“A couple of my goals (for the weekend) were building chemistry with the guys and pulling out a couple of wins,” said Wahlin. “It felt good to get the monkey off my back and get that first goal right away.”
One season after finishing with seven wins, Evan Babekuhl (Long Lake, Minn./North Iowa Bulls) made a dozen saves and became the first Bulls goalie ever to notch a shutout in a North Iowa season opener. The team’s nine goals is its most in a contest since November 10 of last season, against the Willmar WarHawks.
The North Stars did not post more than five shots in a single period, and did not convert on any of their five power play chances. North Iowa had three power plays in the contest, converting with Wahlin’s debut goal just past the game’s midway point.
The Bulls and North Stars return to action at the Breezy Point Hockey Center on Saturday night, starting at 7:30 p.m. Live coverage is available on HockeyTV, with free audio streaming on Mixlr.
Tickets are available now for the Bulls’ final home opener at the “Barn,” October 4 against the Willmar WarHawks. To purchase season or single-game tickets in advance, click here.
North Iowa 3 2 4 – 9
Breezy Point 0 0 0 – 0
1st Period-1, North Iowa, Fagerlee 1 (Dahlseide, Sullivan), 12:57 (SH). 2, North Iowa, Enright 1 (Roitman, Saltness), 19:42. 3, North Iowa, Simon 1 (Enright, Saltness), 19:52. Penalties-McNeil Nio (cross checking-minor), 6:03; Sivets Nio (high sticking-minor), 12:32; Crawford Bzp (tripping-minor), 16:33.
2nd Period-4, North Iowa, Wahlin 1 (Roo, Sullivan), 11:31 (PP). 5, North Iowa, Saltness 1 (Smidt), 17:14. Penalties-Enright Nio (high sticking-minor), 8:15; Curran Bzp (tripping-minor), 10:39.
3rd Period-6, North Iowa, Bowlin 1 (Dahlseide, Sullivan), 5:55. 7, North Iowa, Enright 2 (Sullivan, Callahan), 8:46. 8, North Iowa, Hempel 1 (Simon, Roitman), 14:29. 9, North Iowa, Wahlin 2 (Roo), 16:47. Penalties-Nauss Nio (kneeing-minor), 1:53; Zaste Bzp (holding-minor), 14:29; Enright Nio (hooking-minor), 19:16.
Shots on Goal-North Iowa 22-24-25-71. Breezy Point 4-3-5-12.
Power Play Opportunities-North Iowa 1 / 3; Breezy Point 0 / 5.
Goalies-North Iowa, Babekuhl 1-0-0-0 (12 shots-12 saves). Breezy Point, Foster 0-1-0-0 (71 shots-62 saves).
Linesmen-C. Harrington, Daniel Van Loon.