THIS WEEKEND’S GAME:
SATURDAY – North Iowa @ Willmar, 7:30 p.m
BULLS vs. WILLMAR ALL-TIME: 12-0-1
WHERE’D THE SCORING GO?: Willmar enters the game with a moral victory of sorts, taking a perennial West Division power to the brink on Friday night and shutting them out almost an entire 65 minutes. However, Troy Dahlheimer was able to break through with a goal on the game’s final shot, with just 14 seconds remaining to give the Granite City Lumberjacks a hard-fought 1-0 win. Lukas Haugen more than earned his keep in helping his team pick up the bonus point, with 49 saves. Granite City outshot the WarHawks 50-17 in the contest.
REPEATING HISTORY: In this game, the Bulls will look for a repeat of a lopsided victory in their last matchup between the two teams just a week ago – Austin McNeil buried two goals in the final period to cap his first junior hat trick, and North Iowa ended its home contest against the WarHawks with an 11-1 victory. It’s been quite a stretch for North Iowa, with 10 goals a night over their last three games, including eight against a Rochester Grizzlies team battling for the Central lead.
IMPROVING DALY: North Iowa will have a new player in the lineup with the road trip to Willmar this evening. Delano, Minnesota native Justin Daly is set to join the team after spending his last season-and-a-half with the North American Hockey League’s Kenai River Brown Bears. Daly has played in just two games for the Brown Bears this season, but was a key contributor last season, putting 14 points on the stat sheet in his 53 appearances. Daly comes to North Iowa from a Kenai River team coached by former North Iowa assistant Kevin Murdock, who has led the team into first place in the Midwest Division at the one- third point of the season.
A TEN-SPOT: North Iowa has won 10 straight in the head-to-head series against Willmar since the present-day WarHawks moved from Little Falls, Minnesota in 2016. The Bulls earned the win in their home opener this season by an 11-1 count, thanks to a hat trick from Cam Fagerlee and a seven-goal second period, and the Bulls won a 6-2 outing in Litchfield, Minnesota between the two teams the following night. Last year’s season series was just as lopsided, with the Bulls taking away a 46-7 overall scoring margin. Five of the six meetings between the teams are scheduled before Thanksgiving this season – North Iowa makes its final road trip of the season to Willmar on Thanksgiving Eve.