ALEXANDRIA, Minn. – North Iowa still has a week’s worth of practice to prove it’s ready to battle Granite City next week for the NA3HL West Division lead. After the way the Bulls finished on Saturday night in Alexandria, though, they’re off to a solid head start.
The Blizzard tied it twice on Saturday night, but three unanswered goals sent North Iowa home with a 5-2 win, and the Bulls remain atop the West by just two points against a Lumberjacks team with a game in hand.
The first goal of the night came on a rarity, with Lucas Wahlin (Woodbury, Minn./Hill-Murray H.S.) beating Alexandria goalie Ville Hyttinen on a penalty shot with 2:09 to go. Wahlin slowed on his way into the Blizzard zone on the penalty shot, poking one off the post on the Finnish native’s stick side before watching the puck trickle through for the 1-0 lead.
North Iowa went to the second period with the lead, but Alexandria would tie it just 4:36 out of the break. Joe Daninger (Blaine, Minn./Blaine H.S.) shouldered away a shot from the top of the slot, but Nolan Westra was able to finish off the play and tie the contest at 1-1.
With the Bulls serving a too-many-men penalty, they got the lead back – Justin Daly (Delano, Minn./Kenai River Brown Bears) blocked a Blizzard shot on the left wing before carrying the puck into the Alexandria zone, facing up and firing it into the upper corner of the net at 7:52 of the period to take the lead back.
That lead lasted eight minutes – just under halfway through a tripping minor against Jac Triemert (Woodbury, Minn./Woodbury H.S.), Derek Dropik banged in a rebound in front of the net to put the Blizzard and Bulls back even again at 2-2.
Nick Bowlin’s (Woodbury, Minn./North Iowa Bulls) goal with 1:13 left in the second period put the Bulls ahead for good – a shot from Joey Petronack (White Bear Lake, Minn./North Iowa Bulls) at the top of the slot was kicked out to Bowlin in the faceoff circle to Hyttinen’s left, and the recent Wisconsin-Stout commit zapped the second chance into the net for the 3-2 advantage.
North Iowa wasn’t about to let off the gas in the third, with two goals to seal the deal in a 1:18 span. Daly returned to the scoring column at the 7:35 mark of the period, peeking around a defender on the right-wing faceoff circle and letting one fly into the upper corner past Hyttinen for the 4-2 lead. A setup pass from Daly hit Matt Dahlseide (Maplewood, Minn./North Iowa Bulls) in the right-wing circle at the 8:53 mark, and a low one-timer beat Hyttinen to push the final margin to three goals.
“They came out flying, taking the body,” said Daly. “We just had to fight back and give it everything we had. We got [Hyttinen] moving side-to-side, and we were picking corners. That usually works.”
The Bulls saw their run of 46 straight penalty kills come to an end on Dropik’s second-period goal – North Iowa hadn’t allowed a power play goal since Keegan Bauman’s overtime winner for New Ulm in late November. Bowlin and Wahlin each registered a goal and an assist, and Petronack also posted a pair of helpers.
Daninger was more than up to the task in net, making 30 saves for his seventh win of the season. Hyttinen made 48 saves in the loss, falling to 8-8-2-0 for the year.
The Bulls return to the Mason City Multipurpose Arena next Friday and Saturday with first place in the West Division on the line against the Granite City Lumberjacks. The opening puck drop is set for 7:30 p.m. both nights, with live streaming coverage on HockeyTV and free audio streaming on Mixlr.
Updated news and information on North Iowa Bulls hockey is always available at www.northiowabulls.com, and by following the team on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube. To purchase advance tickets to upcoming Bulls home games, call 641-423-4625 or click here.
North Iowa 1 2 2 – 5
Alexandria 0 2 0 – 2
1st Period-1, North Iowa, Wahlin 19 17:51 (PS). Penalties-Heidenreich Alx (tripping-minor), 7:20; Popowski Alx (slashing-minor), 17:51.
2nd Period-2, Alexandria, Westra 6 (Taraszewski, Taylor), 4:36. 3, North Iowa, Daly 11 (Petronack), 7:52 (SH). 4, Alexandria, Dropik 13 (Lehmann, Branton), 15:54 (PP). 5, North Iowa, Bowlin 11 (Petronack, Roitman), 18:47. Penalties-served by Dahlseide Nio (too many men-minor), 6:58; Eha Nio (charging-major, fighting-major, fighting-ej, charging-gm), 9:52; Popowski Alx (fighting-major, fighting-ej), 9:52; Triemert Nio (tripping-minor), 15:02.
3rd Period-6, North Iowa, Daly 12 (Bowlin), 7:35. 7, North Iowa, Dahlseide 17 (Daly, Wahlin), 8:53. Penalties-Dropik Alx (holding-minor), 10:14; Roitman Nio (tripping-minor), 13:37; Nauss Nio (tripping-minor), 15:01; Wagner Nio (tripping-minor), 19:54.
Shots on Goal-North Iowa 17-17-19-53. Alexandria 8-15-9-32.
Power Play Opportunities-North Iowa 0 / 2; Alexandria 1 / 6.
Goalies-North Iowa, Daninger 7-0-0-0 (32 shots-30 saves). Alexandria, Hyttinen 8-8-2-0 (53 shots-48 saves).
Linesmen-Andrew Bartholomay, Daniel Naylor.