SAUK RAPIDS, Minn. – Though wins could be hard to come by, Garrett Freeman (Sartell, Minn./Breezy Point North Stars) was always a bright spot during his two years in the Breezy Point North Stars lineup. The Sartell, Minnesota native set a North Stars record with 30 goals in 2019-20 to highlight the team’s nine-win final season.
Now, as a member of the North Iowa Bulls, Freeman has already come up big in only his third game with his new team. Freeman scored the Bulls’ first goal of the night as the Bulls earned a topsy-turvy 3-2 win over the Granite City Lumberjacks. The victory sealed a split for the weekend after Granite City’s 2-0 win on Friday night.
Freeman started the scoring with just two minutes left in the first period, with Gijs DeSchepper’s (Nieuwenrode, Belgium/Coulee Region Chill) right-wing shot kicking out to Freeman on the doorstep to put away the rebound. His goal ended a nearly-79-minute scoring drought going back to the final minute of last week’s 9-1 win over the Alexandria Blizzard.
North Iowa led 1-0 heading to the second period, and led for most of the second. With 4:42 to go in the middle stanza, though, Granite City veteran Carson Simon caught a pass from Brockston Masseth out of the corner to Joe Daninger’s (Blaine, Minn./North Iowa Bulls) left and sniped it past to tie the game at 1-1.
The Bulls regained the lead going to the third, when Tucker Lien (Eagle River, Alaska/Team Alaska U18) raced the puck down the right-wing wall and found Cal Nauss (Wayzata, Minn./North Iowa Bulls) for a quick deke and a backhand on his way into the cage. The extra move beat Brandon Shantz for the go-ahead goal with 1:29 remaining, giving North Iowa a 2-1 advantage.
Again, the lead would not hold – this time, with Kyle Mortenson pinned up against the half-boards to Daninger’s right, Simon grabbed the puck and skated it below the goal line, finding an angle to sneak the puck past Daninger at the period’s eight-minute mark.
The final tally came with Freeman, Jac Triemert (Woodbury, Minn./North Iowa Bulls) and Brady Snedden all scrapping for the puck in front of the net, and with three Lumberjack bodies in the crease, Snedden was able to jab it in past Shantz and under Jonah Jangula for the game’s clinching goal.
“These were a couple of wild [games],” said Freeman. “[They’re a] tough team, but we match up well against them. It’s nice to come out with at least one win.”
North Iowa used a 16-9 shots-on-goal swing in the second period to gain the upper hand in the shot count and finish ahead 32-29 for the night, but neither team was able to come through on the power play. With North Iowa at 4-for-4 on the penalty kill and Granite City at 2-for-2, each team remains perfect with reduced manpower through three games.
Daninger finished the game with 27 saves, earning the win in his first outing of the new season. Shantz ended the night with 29 saves, taking the loss in his 2020-21 debut.
After Saturday’s victory, North Iowa is officially on milestone watch – the next win for the Bulls will be their 400th against junior competition. Granite City’s loss also toppled the West Division’s final unbeaten team from its perch, putting each team at 2-1 for the year.
North Iowa travels to New Ulm on Friday night for a 7:10 p.m. puck drop against the Steel, before traveling home to face New Ulm again on Saturday night for a 7:30 p.m. puck drop. Live streaming coverage of both games is available on HockeyTV, with free audio streaming of Saturday’s game on Mixlr.
Next Saturday’s game is “Hocktoberfest” for the Bulls, featuring beer specials and free pucks and mini-sticks with a $25 merchandise purchase at Brutus’s Locker Room Sponsored by Christie Door Company. To purchase tickets in advance to Saturday’s game or any upcoming Bulls home game, call 641-423-4625 or click here. Updated news and information on the North Iowa Bulls’ 10th Anniversary season are always available at www.northiowabulls.com, and by following the team on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.
North Iowa 1 1 1 – 3
Granite City 0 1 1 – 2
1st Period-1, North Iowa, Freeman 1 (DeSchepper, Nauss), 18:00. Penalties-Sullivan Nio (cross checking-minor), 11:40.
2nd Period-2, Granite City, Simon 1 (Masseth, Stevens), 15:18. 3, North Iowa, Nauss 1 (Fox, Lien), 18:31. Penalties-Lehet Gcy (roughing-minor), 7:32.
3rd Period-4, Granite City, Simon 2 (Mortenson), 8:00. 5, North Iowa, Snedden 1 (Freeman, DeSchepper), 18:34. Penalties-Freeman Nio (tripping-minor), 3:48; Stevens Gcy (roughing-minor), 6:37; Jorgenson Nio (roughing-minor), 7:20; Aguilera Nio (interference-minor), 19:30.
Shots on Goal-North Iowa 9-16-7-32. Granite City 11-9-9-29.
Power Play Opportunities-North Iowa 0 / 2; Granite City 0 / 4.
Goalies-North Iowa, Daninger 1-0-0-0 (29 shots-27 saves). Granite City, Shantz 0-1-0-0 (32 shots-29 saves).
Linesmen-Ben Gawlik, Reilly Hickey.