ABERDEEN, S.D. – The North Iowa Bulls have been about as close to a win against the Aberdeen Wings as they could be recently without being able to carry two points off the ice with them. The Wings had won five of their first six meetings against the Bulls, but the last three meetings have all gone to shootouts.
Friday night, North Iowa took care of its work in the regulation 60 minutes at the Odde Ice Center, picking up a 4-2 victory for its first win ever in Aberdeen. The victory puts the Bulls directly in the middle of a logjam for second place in the North American Hockey League Central Division standings, with everyone chasing Austin after the Bruins’ road loss to the Bismarck Bobcats.
With the teams near the same spot in the standings, the scorers in Friday’s game found themselves covering similar ground as well – just 1:54 into the game, Michael Mesic (Plymouth, Mich./Honeybaked 16U) got North Iowa onto the scoreboard with his 12th goal of the season, deflecting an initial left-point shot from Casey Roepke (Erin, Wis./Lincoln Stars) into the top of the cage. At the period’s 4:18 mark, Joey Potter (Pittsburgh, Pa./Twin City Thunder) slung a shot on net from the left point, getting the redirect from Logan Dombrowsky (Stevens Point, Wis./Amarillo Bulls) for his 12th goal of the year and a 2-0 Bulls advantage.
Aberdeen took a 13-11 shots-on-goal advantage out of the opening stanza, but the second period belonged almost entirely to the Wings – the hosts racked up a 21-5 margin in the middle 20 minutes, scoring at 14:33 on a goal from Seamus Campbell after two blocked shots in front of the North Iowa net. Campbell’s goal – his 12th of the year – put the North Iowa lead back to a single goal going to the third.
At 6:23 of the third, Aberdeen got the equalizer it had been hunting for, as Ronan Walsh drove the puck down the left wing, going all the way to the post and jamming the puck underneath Hunter Garvey (San Diego, Calif./Amarillo Bulls) for the tying tally.
“They’re a really good team off the rush,” said Garvey. “I noticed a couple of times, they would do an extra pass backdoor, and sometimes I didn’t pick up the guy. They’re always trying to do something nifty out on the back door. A couple of times, they didn’t connect, and a couple of times, I was able to stop it or my defensemen were able to get it.”
North Iowa held its two-goal lead for more than 30 minutes, but snapped a 46-minute scoring drought to take the lead back at 10:15 of the third. Dombrowsky sprang Byron Hartley (Philadelphia, Pa./Philly Little Flyers 18U) with a pass through neutral ice, and Hartley turned the breakaway into a 3-2 lead on his wrist shot, scoring his 12th goal of the year as well. Hartley added an empty-net goal from the left half with 41 seconds remaining to ice the win, the Bulls’ first over Aberdeen since September 25.
Garvey was more than up to the task of a busy Friday night in net, making 39 saves to earn his 13th win of the season, while Greg Orosz went 25-for-28 in net in the loss for the Wings. The penalty-killing units on both sides were up to their task as well, going a perfect 9-for-9 against opposing power plays.
Hartley’s two goals and an assist highlighted the offensive effort for North Iowa, while Mesic picked up a goal and two assists to remain in the team lead for scoring. Dombrowsky moved into the second spot on the Bulls’ scoring leaderboard with a goal and an assist.
The Bulls bumped their record to 18-14-1-4 with the win, coming out of the night in a three-way tie for second in the Central Division. St. Cloud holds three games in hand on North Iowa and five on Minot, who rounds out the top-two tie.
North Iowa and Aberdeen square off on Saturday night, with the Bulls hunting for their first back-to-back wins since November 20, the last win of their season-best five-game spree. The opening puck drop at the Odde Ice Center is slated for 7:15 p.m., with live streaming coverage on HockeyTV Sponsored by Dakota Fix Shelter Insurance, and Mixlr.
The Bulls return home on Friday, February 4 for their “Friday Night Fever” game against the Austin Bruins, with $3 beers and hot deals on tickets and drinks. To purchase advance tickets to that game or any upcoming North Iowa Bulls home game, call 641-423-4625 or click here. Updated news and information on North Iowa Bulls hockey are always available at www.northiowabulls.com, and by following the team’s social media platforms on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.
North Iowa 2 0 2 – 4
Aberdeen 0 1 1 – 2
1st Period-1, North Iowa, Mesic 12 (Roepke, Hartley), 1:54. 2, North Iowa, Dombrowsky 12 (Potter, Mesic), 4:18. Penalties-Diamond Abd (tripping-minor), 8:02; Domina Nio (tripping-minor), 11:11; Walsh Abd (interference-minor), 16:17; Hartley Nio (holding-minor), 17:40; DuBois Abd (tripping-minor), 17:46.
2nd Period-3, Aberdeen, Campbell 12 (Diamond, Gaffney), 14:33. Penalties-Stacey Nio (hooking-minor), 3:25; Morich Nio (checking from behind-minor, checking from behind-10 misc), 8:13; Stacey Nio (tripping-minor), 16:40; Walsh Abd (slashing-minor), 18:57.
3rd Period-4, Aberdeen, Walsh 17 (Gustafsson), 6:23. 5, North Iowa, Hartley 12 (Dombrowsky, Mesic), 10:15. 6, North Iowa, Hartley 13 19:19 (EN). Penalties-Diamond Abd (high sticking-minor), 13:56.
Shots on Goal-North Iowa 11-5-13-29. Aberdeen 13-21-7-41.
Power Play Opportunities-North Iowa 0 / 5; Aberdeen 0 / 4.
Goalies-North Iowa, Garvey 13-10-1-4 (41 shots-39 saves). Aberdeen, Orosz 4-6-1-0 (28 shots-25 saves).
Linesmen-Landon Depew, Grant Hendrich.