NEW ULM, Minn. – North Iowa led practically from the word “go,” but a couple of quick goals midway through the third period forced the Bulls to head to a shootout to earn Saturday night’s 4-3 win over the New Ulm Steel. The victory is North Iowa’s fourth in a row as the Bulls finish the first weekend of a six-game jaunt into play against West Division foes.
Cameron Fagerlee (St. Anthony, Minn./Totino-Grace H.S.) extended an impressive streak on Connor Clemons‘s (Prior Lake, Minn./Minnesota Magicians) opening goal just 1:21 into the contest – Fagerlee earned the second assist on the goal, extending his run to 12 straight games with at least one point to start his North Iowa career. Peter Verstegen (Oshkosh, Wis./Oshkosh H.S.) added his second goal of the year just 70 seconds later, giving North Iowa a 2-0 lead barely 2 1/2 minutes into the contest.
The insurance goal would last almost exactly 20 minutes, but the lead would survive well into the third period. Jack Parks put away a rebound in front of the Bulls net to beat Colin Cain (Hummelstown, Pa./N.J. Junior Titans U18) at the 2:22 mark of the second period. That goal cut the lead to 2-1, which would remain the score heading into the third.
The insurance goal would make a brief comeback, thanks to Alex Timm (Sand Creek, Wis./Northwest H.S.), who picked a New Ulm defender clean at the Steel blue line, racing the puck in and beating Ryan Beilenberg high at 8:18 for a 3-1 advantage.
Within two minutes, that two-goal lead would evaporate. Former Bull Tom Reilly would go upstairs to beat Cain just 32 seconds later to trim the lead to 3-2. A quick draw in front of the Bulls net by Sam Wenner gave Nick Wieben the opening he needed to snap one past at 10:18 of the third period and wipe out the lead, tying the game at 3.
After an extremely quiet 3-on-3 overtime, it came down to a sudden-death shootout to decide the game. Clemons and Riley traded goals in the second round, but Fagerlee’s wrist shot in the fourth round was the back-breaker. An attempt to roof a fourth-round shot by Alex Nagel missed high and wide off the end-wall glass to end the game.
Cain made 29 saves on 32 shots to earn his third straight win, while Beilenberg dropped his fourth extra-time decision of the year. After several big games for the offense on special teams, Saturday’s game was an ice-cold showing for both teams – New Ulm came up empty on all six of their power-play chances, and North Iowa’s success rate was the same in four opportunities with the extra man.
It’s back to the home “Barn” again for North Iowa, as Todd Sanden’s team welcomes the Alexandria Blizzard on Friday and Saturday night. The Bulls will celebrate Military Appreciation Night on Friday at the North Iowa Ice Arena, with a pregame ceremony on the ice. On Saturday, the North Iowa Jr. Bulls traveling Mites squad will take to the ice during the first intermission.
The opening faceoff each night is scheduled for 7:30 p.m., with live video-streaming of both games on HockeyTV and free audio-streaming of both games on Mixlr. To purchase advance tickets to next weekend’s games, or any future Bulls home game, visit www.northiowabulls.com/tickets.