ALBERT LEA, Minn. – As far as the North Iowa Bulls and Waldorf Warriors are concerned, Wednesday’s exhibition contest won’t count for anything more than a practice. Call it a “dry run” for some big ACHA and NA3HL games just around the corner.
Just don’t call it “meaningless.” The Bulls and Warriors both got some much-needed extra ice time at the Albert Lea City Arena, with North Iowa using a big stretch in the early goings of the second period to trounce their hosts by a 5-2 count. The only other game on record between the teams was a 4-3 Waldorf win in a shootout two years ago in a preseason exhibition.
The Bulls struck early, with Matt Dahlseide (Maplewood, Minn./North Iowa Bulls) setting up Nick Bowlin (Oakdale, Minn./North Iowa Bulls) to beat Ryall Purdy at the 10:29 mark of the opening period for the 1-0 lead.
“It’s a good feeling to finally see some shots go in for our line,” said Dahlseide. “We’ve had a pretty good first four games, but we’re struggling to find the back of the net. We’ve been a little snakebit. Hopefully we can carry those three goals as a line and some momentum into the games this weekend against Granite City. We’ll just hope to keep things rolling.”
The equalizer came just 78 seconds into the second period, with former Bulls forward Sean Mallonee tossing one toward the net for Janeck Sperling to tip in for the tying goal. After that, though, the North Iowa offense got right to work.
In a four-and-a-half-minute span, the Bulls added goals from Cam Fagerlee (St. Anthony, Minn./North Iowa Bulls), Callahan Nauss (Wayzata, Minn./Phoenix Jr. Coyotes) and Campbell Cichosz (Albert Lea, Minn./Albert Lea H.S.). Less than six minutes after Sperling’s equalizer, North Iowa had taken a 4-1 lead and a firm grip on the contest.
Fagerlee started the flurry at 2:46 of the second period, on another setup toss to the net from Dahlseide that was redirected in on the toe of the stick. Dahlseide and Bowlin each had a hand in setting up Nauss’s goal, which came from the very top of the slot. Finally, Cichosz ended the spurt by slipping one underneath Purdy at 7:11 of the period for the three-goal lead.
A shot from Gustaf Warnelius at the top of the North Iowa zone beat Evan Babekuhl (Long Lake, Minn./North Iowa Bulls) with 8:31 left in the second period to trim the Bulls’ lead to 4-2, but just as quickly as the scoring picked up, it quieted down again heading to the third. Only Zachary Simon’s (Orono, Minn./North Iowa Bulls) goal with 2:41 remaining, a top-shelf flip to Purdy’s right side, added onto the lead in the final 20 minutes.
Dahlseide did not score in the contest, but skillfully played the role of the setup man with three assists. Bowlin and Cichosz each had a goal and an assist. Fagerlee’s goal early in the second came on the power play, highlighting a 1-for-6 night for the Bulls with the man-advantage.
Exhibition or not, North Iowa takes an undefeated record on the road to arch-rival Granite City on Friday and Saturday night. The Lumberjacks are also unbeaten, with first place on the line in the NA3HL West Division. Both puck drops this weekend are scheduled for 7:30 p.m. in Sauk Rapids, Minnesota, with live coverage both nights on HockeyTV. Friday’s game is HockeyTV’s Free NA3HL Game of the Week. Viewers must have an active HockeyTV account, but will not need a paid subscription to watch the game.
Tickets are available now for the Bulls’ final home opener in the North Iowa Ice Arena, October 4 against the Willmar WarHawks. The last home-opening bash at the “Barn” will feature a pregame tailgate party, a postgame skate, free koozies with all paid adult admissions, free kids’ admission and more. The latest news and information on Bulls hockey is always available by calling 641-423-4625, visiting www.northiowabulls.com, or following the Bulls on social media. To purchase advance tickets to any Bulls home game this season, click here.