THIS WEEKEND’S GAME:
SATURDAY – North Iowa @ Alexandria, 7:10 p.m
NORTH IOWA BULLS, 26-4-2-0 (ROSTER, STATS)
@ ALEXANDRIA BLIZZARD, 14-11-2-1 (ROSTER, STATS)
COVERAGE: HockeyTV (video/$)
BULLS VS. ALEXANDRIA ALL-TIME: 31-6-2
BLUE DEVILS BAG ANOTHER BULL: North Iowa has another college commitment on the books, thanks to forward Nick Bowlin’s announcement late this past week. Bowlin will attend Wisconsin-Stout next season, adding to an already-strong pipeline between the school and head coach Todd Sanden’s junior program. The forward is expected to add a rugged, physical presence to a forward corps that is in need of a little extra size. Bowlin will be the 14th North Iowa Bulls player to land on Terry Watkins’s roster, and will join Cam Fagerlee and former Bull Peter Verstegen on the Blue Devils’ roster next year.
BLIZZARD BACKGROUND: Alexandria was idle last night, and will have a tough task tonight to shake off a slow start to the new decade. The Blizzard beat both New Ulm and Breezy Point to end 2019, but Alexandria has lost back-to-back games in the new year against Central Division leader Rochester and Granite City, who is keeping pace with the Bulls in the West. Nolan Westra scored the only goal of the game last Friday in a 6-1 loss to the Grizzlies, but he’ll enter this evening’s contest with four goals in his last four games. Last Saturday’s game at Granite City ended in a 4-0 loss, thanks in part to a hat trick from Bailey Sommers. Former Bull Ike Taraszewski will look to pick up the pace against his former team, after racking up 10 points in the month of December and earning an honorable mention spot on the league’s Forward of the Month list.
BLANKETY-BLANK: Nick Wieben’s goal with 13.6 seconds to go last night wrapped up an incredible run for North Iowa’s defense, scoring the first goal against the Bulls in almost 334 minutes. That ranks far and away as a franchise record, a full game ahead of the team’s run of four-plus games early in the 2014-15 season. The last player to score a goal against the Bulls prior to last night was Luke McKay of the Bozeman Ice Dogs, in the opening game of the NA3HL Showcase in December. North Iowa has also rolled on the penalty kill, wiping out 27 straight opposing power plays – that run is an even longer one, going nine straight games without allowing a power play goal.
AND DON’T FORGET THE OFFENSE: Lost in all of the defensive headlines for the Bulls is the success of the offense – New Ulm’s goal at the end of last night’s game ended a streak of 44 unanswered goals for the North Iowa offense, and their 3-for-4 run on the power play marked the 15th game in the last 16 that the Bulls have posted at least one power play goal.