Bulls, Minotauros Lock Horns To Begin Divisional Play

MINOT
MINOTAUROS

(2-2-0-0, 4 pts)

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September 23, 2022 – 7:35 p.m.
September 24, 2022 – 7:35 p.m.

Maysa Arena
Minot, N.D.

NORTH IOWA
BULLS

(3-1-0-0, 6 pts)

ROSTER  |  STATS

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IN A NUTSHELL: North Iowa follows up an impressive run at the NAHL Showcase with its first two divisional games of the season.

ALL-TIME SERIES: North Iowa leads, 5-3-0.

THE SCENE-SETTER: The Bulls enter divisional play coming off of their first loss of the season and first goal allowed this year. After shutting down three straight opponents to open the North American Hockey League Showcase, the Janesville Jets earned a 3-1 win to wrap up the week, and took a 4-0 finish of their own. The teams battled to a scoreless tie over the first two periods, the latest the Bulls had gone into a game yet without seeing a goal on either side – early in the third, though, Chris Pelosi broke through with back-to-back goals at 2:05 and 5:50 of the period. Jake LaRusso scraped in a rebound goal with 3:51 remaining, but an empty-net marker with 1:08 to go sealed the win for the Jets. Both goaltenders made 33 saves, with Sterling picking up the win for Janesville AND Mitch Day taking the loss. 

KNOW YOUR FOE:­ The Minot Minotauros are looking to reload this season after seeing their 2022-23 season come to a close on the final night of the regular season against the Bismarck Bobcats. Last year’s group finished with 28 wins, falling three points behind the Bobcats in the final standings, but the final playoff spot in the Central Division wasn’t decided until the final night, in a game which Bismarck won by a 5-1 count. This year, 11 of last year’s Minotauros are back, but only one of them – Colby Joseph – is among the top six scorers from a year ago. It’s also a new group in net, including prep-school standout Lawton Zacher from the Nichols School in Buffalo, New York. Minot routed Anchorage 5-2 last Saturday to close its run at the NAHL Showcase, highlighted by a goal and two assists by Joseph.

SHUT THE FRONT DOOR: North Iowa’s incredible start came to an end with Janesville’s third-period goals and victory, but the Bulls’ scoreless streak remains one of the best in franchise history. The three season-opening shutouts were the Bulls’ first consecutive shutout wins since January 4, 2020, the last of a team-record-tying run of four straight – that run eventually reached 333:51, and only ended with a New Ulm Steel goal 13 seconds shy of the record-breaking fifth straight shutout. North Iowa’s scoreless streak of 222:31, including the final 26 seconds of the 2022-23 season, ranks fourth in team history. The Bulls did not shut out an opponent in 2021-22.

LOCKDOWN GOALTENDING LOCKS DOWN AWARD: That incredible run at the NAHL Showcase also saw top divisional honors come home to Mason City for the first time this season, as goaltender Erik Chaffe earned the Central Division’s Star of the Week award. Chaffe stopped all 42 shots he saw in Wednesday and Friday’s games against Wisconsin and Odessa, becoming only the second goaltender to start his Bulls career with back-to-back shutouts. David Johnson earned shutouts in his first three games as a Bull, and four of his first five, during the 2014-15 NA3HL campaign – he would finish the season with six shutout wins. Four Bulls earned Central Division Star of the Week honors last year, with goaltender Hunter Garvey taking home the honors twice.

LET’S TALK HART TO HART: North Iowa forward Byron Hartley will seek to get on the scoreboard for the first time this season, and this may be the right weekend for him to do it. He notched seven goals against the Minotauros last year, including the game-winner January 15 in Minot, second only to Carter Rapalje’s eight goals against Aberdeen for the most goals against any one opponent.