WOODRIDGE, Ill. – North Iowa was on the verge of its fifth Fraser Cup championship bid through most of its 60 minutes on Saturday against the Texas Brahmas. An empty-net wraparound from Stuart Pearson with 3.9 seconds to go was the goal that put the game out of reach as North Iowa’s 2018-19 season came to a close in a 3-1 loss.
Michael Redmon got the Brahmas off the ground with the first goal of the game just 59 seconds out of the first intermission, stealing the puck in the corner and racing behind the net for a wraparound goal across Dysen Skinner (Billings, Mont./Sioux Falls Jr. Stampede 18U).
The Bulls’ season remained on the brink going to the final period, but a feed from Jimmy McDermott (Dubuque, Iowa/Wisconsin Whalers) below the goal line found Jarod Blackowiak (Eden Prairie, Minn./North Iowa Bulls) out front for a one-timer to tie the game with 11:37 to go.
The game was tied for a little over three minutes, until Benjamin Lindberg scored his eventual game-winner against a double-dose of North Iowa defense with 8:27 left on the third-period clock. The Bulls were able to hold the offensive zone for most of the final two minutes of the game after pulling Skinner during a timeout, but none of their final chances found their way past Bryce Runyan. Pearson’s final goal sealed the deal with just a few ticks to go.
The Brahmas move on to the Fraser Cup finals for the first time in team history behind a top-tier performance from Runyan, who made 34 saves on 35 North Iowa shots. Skinner had an outstanding finale of his own, making 39 saves on 41 Brahmas chances.
The South Division champions earned the win despite coming up short on all seven of their power play chances. North Iowa earned less than a minute of power play time in the game, despite going up a man on three separate occasions.
The loss was North Iowa’s first in a semifinal game, after earning four straight trips to the finals from 2013 to 2016. The Bulls did not advance out of pool play in the 2017 tournament, and did not make the tournament in 2018. Their season ends with a combined regular-season and postseason record of 37-15-3.
Texas shifted its record to 45-4-2-3 and will face the Lewiston/Auburn Nordiques, the tournament’s top overall seed, for the Fraser Cup national championship on Sunday afternoon. The Nordiques were the champions of the NA3HL’s Coastal Division, and bring a 50-4 record into the final day of the season.
Season tickets are now available for 2019-20, the ninth season of North Iowa Bulls hockey. Early-bird discounts are available through May 1. For more information on North Iowa Bulls season tickets, click here.
North Iowa 0 0 1 – 1
Texas 0 1 2 – 3
1st Period- No Scoring.Penalties-No Penalties
2nd Period-1, Texas, Redmon 1 0:59. Penalties-Roo Nio (cross checking-minor), 7:49; Verstegen Nio (slashing-minor), 10:22; Wood Tex (interference-minor), 10:38; Studioso Nio (tripping-minor), 14:18; Kalandyk Tex (tripping-minor), 16:14; Verstegen Nio (cross checking-minor), 16:37.
3rd Period-2, North Iowa, Blackowiak 3 (McDermott, Bogach), 8:23. 3, Texas, Lindberg 1 11:33. 4, Texas, Pearson 2 (Cooper), 19:57 (EN). Penalties-Bogach Nio (holding-minor), 1:26; Fagerlee Nio (slashing-minor), 7:28; Kalandyk Tex (cross checking-minor), 7:49; Blackowiak Nio (hooking-minor), 9:52; Blanchard Tex (unsportsmanlike conduct-minor (embellishment/diving)), 9:52; Verstegen Nio (tripping-minor), 12:35.
Shots on Goal-North Iowa 10-12-13-35. Texas 13-13-16-42.
Power Play Opportunities-North Iowa 0 / 4; Texas 0 / 8.
Goalies-North Iowa, Skinner 1-2-0-0 (41 shots-39 saves). Texas, Runyan 2-0-0-0 (35 shots-34 saves).