January 27, 2022 – 6:30 p.m.
Mason City Arena – Mason City, IA
ST. CLOUD NORSEMEN (18-13-0-1)
@ NORTH IOWA BULLS (17-13-1-4)
January 28, 2022 – 7:15 p.m..
January 29, 2022 – 7:15 p.m.
Odde Ice Center – Aberdeen, SD
NORTH IOWA BULLS (17-13-1-4)
@ ABERDEEN WINGS (18-15-1-2)
BULLS vs. ST. CLOUD ALL-TIME: 1-1-1
BULLS vs. ABERDEEN ALL-TIME: 1-2-3
IN A NUTSHELL:
North Iowa looks to get back ahead in the head-to-head series and gain some much-needed separation from the Norsemen on Thursday, while shaking off a recent shootout slump against Aberdeen this weekend.
North Iowa returns home to face the St. Cloud Norsemen on January 27 for their only Thursday night home game of the regular season, and the Bulls’ “Business Break” Night, with two free tickets to each Mason City Chamber of Commerce member. Adult tickets have been marked down to $5, with free kids’ admission, and domestic beers marked down to $2.
AT THE TOP OF THEIR GAME:
Four Bulls will represent their team as part of the Central Division roster at the North American Hockey League’s Top Prospects Tournament in Pittsburgh on February 7 and 8. The rosters were announced on Tuesday afternoon, with Carter Rapalje, Michael Mesic, Logan Dombrowsky and Dylan Gajewski earning spots in the event – Rapalje scored a goal at last year’s showcase, representing the South Division as a member of the Amarillo Bulls, while the other three are making their first appearances. The Central Division will face the Midwest in a Monday-evening matchup, followed by a Tuesday morning game against the South Division all-stars. Three others who played for North Iowa during their NA3HL careers – Zack Simon (Minot), Carson Jones (Springfield) and Max Gutjahr (Amarillo) will also appear at the Top Prospects event at the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex.
They say that “one is the loneliest number,” but there are plenty of them to go around in quantifying the Bulls’ head-to-head series with the Norsemen. North Iowa is 1-1-1 this season against St. Cloud, with each team coming into the night with 11 goals against the other. North Iowa scored the bulk of its goals in its first get-together with the Norsemen, a rollicking 7-4 win in St. Cloud that saw Jake LaRusso and Brett Morich both score their first goals as Bulls. St. Cloud swept North Iowa in their last meetings, a 4-2 win in Mason City on December 3 and a 3-2 overtime win off the stick of Ryan O’Neill the following night in St. Cloud.
EARLY BIRD SPECIAL:
There may be no hotter team to start a game in the North American Hockey League this season than the Bulls, posting 54 first-period goals, far and away the best mark in the NAHL. New Jersey sits in second place in that category at 45 first-period goals, followed by Aberdeen with 44. North Iowa’s 24 games in which they have scored first trails only the Northeast Generals, who are one ahead of the Bulls for the league lead.
Thursday’s game marks a much-needed break in a heavy road schedule for the Bulls – North Iowa finds itself in the midst of a stretch of nine road games out of 11, and six full weekends out of eight away from home. The reward is on the horizon, though – the Bulls play nine of their last 12 games of the regular season, including eight of their final 10, at the Mason City Arena.
SHOOTOUT AT THE O.K. CORRAL:
Despite Aberdeen’s five wins in their six meetings against North Iowa, the series is about as close as they get, with the teams going to a shootout in each of their last three meetings. It’s the first time North Iowa has ever played an opponent to a shootout in three straight meetings, and only the second time the Bulls have faced an opponent in three shootouts in the same season – the Chicago Hitmen won two of their three shootouts against North Iowa in the Bulls’ inaugural NA3HL campaign in 2011-12.