MASON CITY, Iowa – After a seven-game stretch away from home – the last of which will be played on Friday – the North Iowa Bulls begin their 28-game home slate Saturday against the Austin Bruins. Fans are invited to check out the new “Bullpen” game-night bar in the club room on the Mason City Arena’s concourse level, featuring live intermission entertainment and new drink options never offered before at a Bulls home game.
The team and the Mason City Arena have also implemented a new no-reentry policy for games, effective this season – smokers will be required to leave the arena via the west doors (facing Washington Avenue) to smoke, and cigarette receptacles will be available near the west doors for their use.
To purchase advance tickets to upcoming North Iowa Bulls home games, call 641-423-4625 or click here. Updated news and information on North Iowa Bulls hockey are always available at www.northiowabulls.com, and by following the team’s social media platforms on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.
|September 30, 2022 – 7:05 p.m.
October 1, 2022 – 7:10 p.m.
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IN A NUTSHELL: North Iowa renews its rivalry against its nearest neighbor to open a 12-game season series.
ALL-TIME SERIES: North Iowa trails, 5-6-1.
THE SCENE-SETTER: The Bulls are back in the win column after another gritty defensive effort last Saturday night in a 2-1 win against the Minot Minotauros. North Iowa and Minot scrapped to a scoreless tie in the first period, and nearly went through the second period before breaking through on a power play goal from Byron Hartley, following a setup pass from Simone Dadie below the goal line. Hartley picked up a second goal near the midway mark of the third period, throwing a pass out front that was deflected into the net by a Minotauros defender. Sustained 6-on-5 pressure with an empty net finally got the ‘Tauros on the board with 57 seconds to go as Cooper Rice batted a puck past Erik Chaffe to cut the final margin to 2-1. Chaffe made 32 saves on 33 Minot chances, opening his North Iowa career with a 3-0 mark.
KNOW YOUR FOE: Austin is off to its best start in franchise history, going through its first six games without a regulation loss – the Bruins have started with 10 standings points in the first six games only twice before, in 2013 and 2014, and both starts involved a five-win start with a regulation loss. Steve Howard’s team is coming off of back-to-back shootout losses to St. Cloud, with the Norsemen earning a 1-0 victory on Saturday in Austin in the Bruins’ longest scoreless game in history. The Bruins were one of four teams to come out of the NAHL Showcase with perfect records, thanks in part to Austin Salani, who has notched a team-best seven points thus far.
NOT AFRAID OF COMMITMENT: Two players with North Iowa ties have already locked up NCAA Division I commitments, with the Bulls’ first active player commitment coming this past week. Forward Max Scott announced his commitment to Brown University on Wednesday, becoming the first North Iowa Bull ever to commit to an Ivy League institution. Scott is in his third year with the Bulls, playing for the organization during its final year in Amarillo in 2020-21. Alumnus Jack Phelan – now with the USHL’s Sioux Falls Stampede – announced his commitment to Minnesota State University, Mankato last week.
CLOSE, BUT NOT QUITE: Goaltender Erik Chaffe nearly made Bulls history last weekend, coming up less than a minute shy of becoming only the second player to begin his North Iowa career with three straight shutouts. Chaffe stopped all 42 shots he saw at the NAHL Showcase against Wisconsin and Odessa, and became 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. Chaffe enters the new weekend with saves on 74 of his first 75 chances.
FLIP THE POWER BACK ON: North Iowa is off to a strong start on special teams this season, and will take on a team against which special teams success came at a premium in 2021-22. The Bulls went 1-for-44 on the power play against Austin a year ago, while the Bruins notched 11 power play goals in their 12 outings against the Bulls. This year, it’s North Iowa who has gotten off to the hot start on the man-advantage, posting five goals on 16 chances, while the Bruins are off to a 2-for-38 start. The Bulls penalty kill has allowed one power play goal in 16 chances against, good for fourth in the NAHL – the Bruins aren’t far behind, just a shade under 90 percent on the young season.