THIS WEEKEND’S GAME:
SATURDAY – Alexandria @ North Iowa, 7:30 p.m
BULLS VS. ALEXANDRIA ALL-TIME: 31-6-2
THIS WEEKEND’S PROMOTIONS: Saturday marks the first day in a new era of hockey in Mason City, with the first game in the Bulls’ new downtown arena. Saturday’s events will begin with a ribbon-cutting at the south lobby at 6 p.m., and a postgame skating party will follow the game. For a schedule of upcoming promotions, click here.
BRAVE NEW WORLD: After nearly 800 junior hockey games at the North Iowa Events Center, the Bulls officially open a much larger “barn” Saturday. It replaces the North Iowa Ice Arena, which opened its doors in 1983. It’s also likely to be the biggest crowd ever for a hockey game in Mason City – the Bulls’ current single-game attendance mark was set January 2, 2015, with a crowd of 1,657 witnessing that night’s Bulls game against the Twin City Steel.
SHOW IT OFF: While North Iowa heads out of the Showcase with a 10-game winning streak in Blaine, Alexandria finished 2-1 last week, dropping a 4-2 game on the opening day against the St. Louis Jr. Blues. The teams traded goals until the third period, when Clayton Dawe and Joey Solimando put St. Louis ahead to stay. Ike Taraszewski scored the game-winner 3:03 into overtime on Monday to give the Blizzard a 4-3 win over the Great Falls Americans, and Alexandria squeezed out a 3-2 win over the Atlanta Capitals on the final day behind three goals in the first period.
ESCALATING QUICKLY: The Bulls got to celebrate another North American Hockey League call-up last weekend, with Dysen Skinner earning three starts in Richfield for the Minnesota Magicians. Skinner was impressive in his NAHL debut, posting 31 saves and earning the first star in a 4-1 win. A loss to Springfield last Friday night and an overtime loss to Fairbanks on Saturday left the Magicians with three of a possible six points on the weekend. Justin Callahan is making his farewell appearance with the Bulls, after committing to Iowa State University the week prior to the Showcase – this will be his 54th appearance in a North Iowa uniform, posting nine points to date with the Bulls.
THAT GOT OUT OF HAND FAST: After eking out a 3-2 overtime win in early November, the Bulls meet the Blizzard again tonight off of one of their most dominant weekends ever in the head-to-head series. The Bulls’ 10-0 win at the Runestone Community Center on December 6 was the team’s most lopsided victory ever over Alexandria, and Justin Daly’s hat trick capped an 8-3 win over the Blizzard the following night in the final junior hockey game ever at the “Barn.”