ALEXANDRIA, Minn. – Friday wins have proven elusive at times for the North Iowa Bulls against the NA3HL’s best clubs. On Saturday nights, though, those lessons are always learned and acted upon. After dropping a 3-2 overtime defeat at Alexandria on Friday night, North Iowa flipped the script on Saturday and used three power play goals to rout the Blizzard, 6-2.
12 of North Iowa’s 18 skaters had points in the game, including newcomer Carter Wagner (Lino Lakes, Minn./Minnesota Magicians), who had a pair of goals in his second game with the Bulls. Of the 13 two-game weekends for the Bulls thus far, 11 have ended with North Iowa victories on the second night.
The Blizzard got out to the better start, though – Alexandria put 13 shots on net against the Bulls’ nine in the first period, and the only goal of the period came from a player who was once North Iowa’s own. At 4:20, Ike Tarazewski carried the puck through the middle and walked up to the doorstep before tapping a shot off of Dysen Skinner (Billings, Mont./Sioux Falls Jr. Stampede U18) and bouncing in the rebound for the opening goal.
After more than 11 minutes of second-period play, the Bulls power play went to work. Former Bull Wesley Johnson was hit for a tripping penalty at the midway point of the second period, and with 8:50 left in the period Cam Fagerlee (St. Anthony, Minn./North Iowa Bulls) grabbed a loose puck at the top of the left-wing faceoff circle and faced the net before firing one above Ville Hyttinen’s left shoulder for the tying goal.
That goal was merely the start of a brief barrage for the visitors – 24 seconds later, Matt Rozman (Edina, Minn./Edina Jr. Gold) added the go-ahead goal off of a pass from Konnor Carlson (Inver Grove Heights, Minn./Simley H.S.). Rozman dangled the puck across the top of the crease before pushing it in, giving the Bulls a 2-1 lead.
At 12:08, less than a minute after Fagerlee’s initial strike, Carlson was the set-up man again, this time for Wagner on a breakaway up the left wing. After a deke to the right, Carlson slipped it past Hyttinen’s right skate for a 3-1 lead.
The second verse of the story needed a little punctuation, though. Enter fellow North Iowa newcomer Hank Nagel (Mound, Minn./Mound-Westonka H.S.), who wrote the exclamation mark with a power play one-timer from the right wing with 1:01 on the clock, taking the Bulls to the third period with a 4-1 lead.
Wagner quickly pushed the Bulls further ahead to start the third, as Fagerlee got Hyttinen to commit to a play on the left wing. Fagerlee’s pass to Wagner beat Hyttinen across the net, giving Wagner plenty of open space to toss in his second goal of the game, a power play marker at the 44-second mark.
Johnson and fellow Bulls blueliner Tucker Kruse beat their old bunch on one play at 6:51 of the final period, though – after a rush up the left wing from Connor Busse and a tight-angle try, a brief scramble ensued at the net. Johnson was able to push the puck past Skinner, trimming the lead to 5-2.
The final goal of the night came on a one-timer from Harrison Stewart (Rockford, Ill./Milwaukee Jr. Admirals U18) with 3:28 to go. Peter Verstegen (Oshkosh, Wis./North Iowa Bulls) started the final scoring play behind the Alexandria net, but it was Matt Dahlseide (Maplewood, Minn./North Iowa Bulls) who sent a pass from behind the goal line out front for Stewart to finish off.
The second period was the turning point for the Bulls in a number of ways, with a 16-8 shots-on-goal advantage over the middle stanza. All three second-period penalties from the Blizzard would end with a North Iowa goal, including Wagner’s tally in the opening minute of the third. Verstegen would finish the night with a pair of assists, one of three Bulls with multiple points.
One night after picking up a point in net with the overtime loss, Skinner grabbed 30 saves on 32 Alexandria shots to seal the win and move to 11-2-1-0 on the season. Hyttinen made 28 saves in the loss, dropping to 5-5-0-1.
With the victory, North Iowa heads to a brief break at 24-7-1-0 for the year, firmly in second place in the NA3HL West. The Bulls won’t play another league game until January 25 and 26, when they make back-to-back road visits to Granite City and Alexandria. Live streaming coverage of both games is available on HockeyTV.
North Iowa returns to the “Barn” on Wednesday night for a Faith and Family Night exhibition game against the Shattuck-St. Mary’s Sabres, with a pregame message and live music during intermission. Church groups of 10 or more will also receive discounted admission. For advance tickets to that game or any future Bulls home game, click here.
North Iowa 0 4 2 – 6
Alexandria 1 0 1 – 2
1st Period-1, Alexandria, Taraszewski 1 (Johnson), 4:20. Penalties-Frerichs Alx (tripping-minor), 5:56; Prisbe Alx (holding-minor), 14:25; Nagel Nio (cross checking-minor), 19:56.
2nd Period-2, North Iowa, Fagerlee 13 (Escobar, Blackowiak), 11:10 (PP). 3, North Iowa, Rozman 7 (Bogach, Carlson), 11:34. 4, North Iowa, Wagner 1 (Carlson), 12:08. 5, North Iowa, Nagel 1 (Stewart, Verstegen), 18:59 (PP). Penalties-Johnson Alx (tripping-minor), 10:00; Brandt Nio (roughing-minor), 12:08; Scanlon Alx (roughing-minor), 12:08; Prisbe Alx (slashing-minor), 18:18; Busse Alx (roughing-minor), 19:36.
3rd Period-6, North Iowa, Wagner 2 (Fagerlee, Junker), 0:44 (PP). 7, Alexandria, Johnson 2 (Kruse, Busse), 6:51. 8, North Iowa, Stewart 6 (Dahlseide, Verstegen), 16:32. Penalties-Carlson Nio (slashing-minor), 3:54; Studioso Nio (delay of game-minor), 8:34; Meister Alx (cross checking-minor), 10:34.
Shots on Goal-North Iowa 9-16-9-34. Alexandria 13-8-11-32.
Power Play Opportunities-North Iowa 3 / 6; Alexandria 0 / 3.
Goalies-North Iowa, Skinner 11-2-1-0 (32 shots-30 saves). Alexandria, Hyttinen 5-5-0-1 (34 shots-28 saves).
Linesmen-Daniel Naylor, Nicholas Seppala.