THIS WEEKEND’S GAME:
FRIDAY – Breezy Point @ North Iowa, 7:30 p.m
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. – the Bulls will also wear special jerseys this weekend to honor its past and present players, to be auctioned off Saturday night to benefit the North Iowa Youth Center. 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” Friday. 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, Breezy Point finished with a 1-2 mark in Blaine, starting the week with a 4-2 win over defending Frontier Division playoff champion Helena. After going up 3-0 with a period to go, the Bighorns cut the lead to a goal with 3:10 to go before Garrett Freeman’s goal with 1:33 left iced the win. Jordan Linder scored the North Stars’ lone goal in a 5-1 loss to Butte the following day, and Skylands racked up five power play goals in a 13-4 win to close out the Showcase. Braeden Zaste scored two goals for Breezy Point in that game. Alexandria scored 11 unanswered goals in Wednesday’s 12-2 win over Breezy Point in a New Year’s Eve victory for the Blizzard.
ESCALATING QUICKLY: The Bulls got to celebrate another North American Hockey League call-up prior to Christmas, 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. Skinner remained with the Magicians after the holidays, posting a team-best .918 save percentage in his brief time with the Magicians.
THAT GOT OUT OF HAND FAST: North Iowa has won a dozen straight against the North Stars, and Breezy Point will try to close the gap against a team that has won some lopsided meetings in recent years. The Bulls have won their five meetings by an average of seven goals, including an 11-1 victory in their last meeting in mid- November. Only three wins during North Iowa’s 12-game run have been decided by four goals or less.