THIS WEEK’S GAME:
SUNDAY – Willmar @ North Iowa, 6:30 p.m.
COVERAGE: HockeyTV (video/$)
BULLS vs. WILLMAR ALL-TIME: 14-0-1
WINNER, WINNER: Thanks to a St. Louis sweep of the Granite City Lumberjacks, North Iowa was able to lock up its seventh division championship in nine years in front of a sold-out crowd of 2,140 on Saturday night. The Bulls finished in second place to Granite City a year ago, and were placed in the Central Division for a three-year stretch from 2016 to 2018, winning the regular-season title each season.
GAINING THE UPPER HAND: Special teams has been a major difference in the contests between the Bulls and WarHawks, and nowhere has that been more true than the last two meetings. North Iowa has scored on each of its last six power plays against the WarHawks, going 4-for-4 in their get-together at Willmar on November 16 and 2-for-2 in Tuesday night’s game. The WarHawks have gone without a power play goal in each of their last three games against North Iowa, coming up empty on their last eight chances. In all, the Bulls have gone 9-for-22 on the power play against Willmar this year, a mark of better than 40 percent. The WarHawks are just 2-for-17 on the power play against the Bulls entering tonight’s game.
BARRAGE: North Iowa’s last outing against the WarHawks was an impressive one, knocking off Willmar in its buiding on Tuesday night by a 9-0 count – the Bulls tossed 29 shots on the Willmar net in the first period of that game, marking a season-high. The last time the Bulls put 30 shots or more on the net in a single period was also against the WarHawks, in the third period of an 11-2 win over Willmar last November.
YOU LIKE US! YOU REALLY LIKE US!: North Iowa’s attendance of 2,140 on Saturday night was a brand-new Bulls record and a new record for the largest crowd to ever witness a hockey game in Mason City, besting the mark of 2,058 set on the opening night at the Mason City Multipurpose Arena on January 3. Of the 10 home games that the Bulls have played since moving downtown, nine have been larger than this season’s largest crowd at the “Barn” prior to the midseason move (1,135). Saturday’s game also topped eight of the 10 games in the North American Hockey League.