MASON CITY, Iowa – The moment was anything but bleak for the North Iowa Bulls after Blake Mesenburg scored his second goal of Wednesday’s game for a 3-0 St. Cloud Norsemen lead.
The Bulls got a huge response from Carter Rapalje (Burlington, Vt./Amarillo Bulls), which touched off a memorable comeback that saw North Iowa tie the game with 14:19 remaining. However, Mesenburg capped the night with a hat trick thanks to a one-timer with 37 seconds left in overtime to give the Norsemen a 4-3 victory.
North Iowa and St. Cloud scrapped to a stalemate in the first period, with a tidy 20 minutes between the teams – the Norsemen took an 11-9 shots-on-goal margin into the second period in a stanza that included no goals or penalties.
The Norsemen charged into the lead in the second period, though, thanks to a top-shelf marker from Mesenburg at the left slot 4:20 into the period. Byron Hartley’s (Philadelphia, Pa./Philly Little Flyers 18U) boarding minor at 6:09 of the period put St. Cloud on its first power play of the night, and Nik Hong snapped a successful shot down the slot with 29 seconds left on the man-advantage, putting the Norsemen up 2-0.
Mesenburg’s second goal that gave St. Cloud its short-lived three-goal cushion came with 2:41 remaining in the period, when a Blake Perbix wraparound chance ran off his stick and to the front of the net – Mesenburg was in the right place to save the play and toss the puck in the net, stretching the St. Cloud lead to 3-0.
Rapalje’s response came quickly – just 16 seconds later, Logan Dombrowsky (Stevens Point, Wis./Amarillo Bulls) sprang the Bulls’ top goal-scorer with a high-flying pass over neutral ice, and Rapalje beat Tomas Bolo with a backhander to cut the lead back to 3-1. Jack Campion (Crystal, Minn./Mason City Toros) trimmed the lead back to 3-2 with just 38 seconds remaining in the period, with a shot from just inside the left-wing circle into the top corner of the net.
At 5:41 of the third period, the St. Cloud lead evaporated completely – Jack Mesic (Plymouth, Mich./Amarillo Bulls) stepped into the slot, taking a pass from Sean Vlasich (Upper Saddle River, N.J./Amarillo Bulls), and snapped a shot into the top half of the net to tie the game at 3-3.
The teams kept the heat on in the third period, with a pair of solid chances for the Bulls in overtime, including a Rapalje penalty shot with 1:41 left. However, the Norsemen would finish the night on a power play following a hooking call against Max Scott (San Jose, Calif./Amarillo Bulls) with 1:14 remaining, and Mesenburg rifled home the winner off of a pass from Ryan O’Neill that found him in the right-wing faceoff circle.
Mesenburg’s hat trick was his second in less than two weeks, after scoring a trio of goals in an 8-2 win over Austin on March 18. The assist for O’Neill also kept alive a 10-game point streak, the team’s longest since Brett Chorske’s 10-game scoring run last season. Ethan Benz and Blake Perbix had two assists apiece.
Rapalje finished with a goal and an assist, extending his goal-scoring streak to five games, the Bulls’ longest of the season. Dombrowsky and Vlasich had two assists apiece.
“We played very well together,” said Mesic. “I can’t ask for much more – I think everybody played a really good game. We worked our butts off out there to come back from down 3-0. It’s just unfortunate how it went, but hopefully we come back Friday and get a good win against them, get a couple of points.”
The Norsemen power play finished 2-for-3 in the contest, while killing off both North Iowa power plays. Hunter Garvey (San Diego, Calif./Amarillo Bulls) took the overtime loss with 32 saves on 36 St. Cloud shots, while Bolo earned his 25th win of the season behind 27 saves of his own.
The Bulls extended their point streak to five straight games, dropping the margin to five points between them and fourth-place Minot with five games remaining on the regular-season schedule. North Iowa meets up again with the Norsemen on Friday night, this time at the Municipal Athletic Complex in St. Cloud, with a 7:10 p.m. puck drop. Live streaming coverage of Friday’s game is available on HockeyTV Presented by Dakota Fix Shelter Insurance and Mixlr.
North Iowa returns to home ice next Friday and Saturday with the team’s final two games of the regular season against the Bismarck Bobcats – Friday’s game is the Bulls’ “Room and Boarding” Night, with $5 admission for students with a valid college ID, and $3 domestic beers for all fans of legal age. To purchase advance tickets to those games 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 available at www.northiowabulls.com, and by following the team’s social media platforms on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.
St. Cloud 0 3 0 1 – 4
North Iowa 0 2 1 0 – 3
1st Period- No Scoring.Penalties-No Penalties
2nd Period-1, St. Cloud, Mesenburg 22 (Perbix, Benz), 4:20. 2, St. Cloud, Hong 17 (Kiffin, Bolo), 7:40 (PP). 3, St. Cloud, Mesenburg 23 (Perbix, Benz), 17:03. 4, North Iowa, Rapalje 27 (Dombrowsky, Vlasich), 17:19. 5, North Iowa, Campion 3 (Rapalje, Dombrowsky), 19:22. Penalties-Hartley Nio (boarding-minor), 6:09; Sabo Stn (holding-minor), 8:51.
3rd Period-6, North Iowa, Mesic 10 (Vlasich, Hartley), 5:41. Penalties-Lajoie Stn (slashing-minor), 12:10; Vlasich Nio (interference-minor), 14:11.
OT Period-7, St. Cloud, Mesenburg 24 (Murr, O’Neill), 4:23 (PP). Penalties-Mesenburg Stn (hooking-minor), 3:20; Scott Nio (hooking-minor), 3:46.
Shots on Goal-St. Cloud 11-13-9-3-36. North Iowa 9-8-11-2-30.
Power Play Opportunities-St. Cloud 2 / 3; North Iowa 0 / 2.
Goalies-St. Cloud, Bolo 25-7-1-0 (30 shots-27 saves). North Iowa, Garvey 15-16-2-5 (36 shots-32 saves).
Linesmen-Reilly Hickey, Devin Kasperek.