Bulls Preview: Game 18 at Breezy Point


FRIDAY – North Iowa @ Breezy Point, 7:30 p.m



COVERAGE: HockeyTV (video/$), Mixlr (audio/free)



SUMMARIZING THE STARS: Breezy Point enters the new weekend looking to shake a nine-game losing skid that began when the Bulls faced them at the “Barn” back in October. The Coulee Region Chill swept the North Stars last weekend by 5-2 and 11-3 scores – Coulee Region took a 2-0 lead in Friday’s game before goals from Alec Sorby and James Curran tied the game. Three unanswered Chill goals allowed them to pull away for the win. Eight straight Coulee Region goals put them on their way to Saturday night’s victory, and Sam VanderHoeven wrapped up a hat trick with two goals in the third period.

EARLY DEADLINE: North Iowa is used to playing a season series against Breezy Point, and the Bulls and North Stars are used to playing that entire series in quick succession. Last year’s six-game season series was finished by November 17, and an eight-game season series between the teams in 2015-16 was over by December 13. This time, the road series for the Bulls ends tonight, but the teams will meet one final time in Mason City on January 3.

POWER OUTAGE: Special teams appearances for both teams can be expected in this game, but both teams have some improvements to make when it comes to the power play. Breezy Point’s 8.6-percent success rate with the extra man ranks at the bottom of the NA3HL, and the North Stars have converted just one of their last 36 chances over the last eight games. The Bulls are 1-for-14 over their last three games, dropping the Bulls’ power play from the league’s top tier back to the middle of the pack.

A BREAKOUT STAR: Coming into this past weekend’s games against Rochester and Willmar, Bulls forward Austin McNeil had just four junior points to his name, including only one goal. His breakout weekend finally came last weekend, leading to the NA3HL’s West Division Star of the Week award. McNeil had the only multi-goal game in Friday’s 8-2 win over the Rochester Grizzlies, and two third-period goals on Saturday capped off his hat trick in an 11-1 victory. The Shakopee, Minnesota native also had an assist in Saturday’s game. He is the fourth Bull to be named the division’s Star of the Week this season, after Mason Enright, Cam Fagerlee and Sota Isogai.