September 24, 2021 – 7:30 p.m.
September 25, 2021 – 7:30 p.m.
Mason City Arena – Mason City, IA
ABERDEEN WINGS (3-1-0-0)
@ NORTH IOWA BULLS (3-1-0-0)
BULLS vs. ABERDEEN ALL-TIME: 0-0-0
IN A NUTSHELL: North Iowa opens the Central Division schedule with its first-ever official home games as a North American Hockey League club.
LAST WEEK: North Iowa went to the North American Hockey League Showcase in Blaine, Minnesota last week and made a good first impression in its opening week as an NAHL member, winning three of four against teams from outside the Central Division. Logan Dombrowsky scored the first NAHL goal in team history midway through the first period of Wednesday’s 5-1 win over the Minnesota Wilderness, while Michael Mesic and Ryan Coughlin registered a goal and two assists apiece, and Carsen Stokes made 23 saves for his first NAHL win. Jamestown caught up with North Iowa the next day, earning a 4-1 win – Owen West earned his first goal and pair of assists in 2021-22 in the Rebel victory. Facing the team that replaced them in the Texas Panhandle this past summer, the Bulls ripped through the Amarillo Wranglers with three power play goals, including one on a 5-on-3, and a 4-1 win. Dombrowsky notched two goals and an assist, while Cullen DeYoung made 33 saves to make his season debut in the win column. Greg Japchen and Carter Rapalje closed out North Iowa’s very successful NAHL debut by picking up a pair of goals each in a 6-2 win Saturday evening over the Kenai River Brown Bears.
THIS WEEKEND’S PROMOTIONS: North Iowa opens its 2021-22 home schedule tonight to kick off the Bulls’ “1 Town, 2 Teams, 3 Days, 4 Games” weekend alongside the new Mason City Toros, with free schedule posters to be given away at tonight’s game to the first 200 fans through the doors.
A DRY RUN: These same teams met two weeks ago as North Iowa took on its first NAHL opponent in a couple of unofficial preseason matchups. The Bulls would have earned three of a possible four points on the weekend, with Ryan Coughlin racking up a hat trick in a 7-1 Friday night win over the Wings. Andrew Takacs went 40 minutes for the win, making 17 saves. The following afternoon, the Bulls fell behind 3-0 going into the second period, trailing 19-7 in the shots-on-goal department. Still down three with 11 seconds to go, Michael Mesic shrank the lead to 4-2, and Hunter Bulger buried two goals in the third period to tie the contest. However, Aberdeen earned the 5-4 win 52 seconds into overtime with Landry Schmuck’s second goal of the game.
GIMME FIVE: After only four games, North Iowa forward Logan Dombrowsky has already matched his season total from a year ago with five points. Splitting time between the forward and defense spots, the Wisconsin native scored just one goal in 29 games for Amarillo, but he racked up three goals in the NAHL Showcase last week, including two against the brand-new Wranglers.
LEARN YOUR HISTORY: North Iowa welcomes the Wings tonight for the first NAHL game played in Mason City since March 25, 2010 – in that Thursday game against the Owatonna Express, Chris Darnell scored three points to lead the visitors past the North Iowa Outlaws by a 3-2 score in front of 651 fans. A 6-on-5 goal for Robbie Anderegg with nine seconds to go would be the final NAHL goal scored in the River City for almost exactly 11 ½ years.
TAKING FLIGHT: Just like their hosts, the Wings won three of their four games at the Showcase, losing only the Robertson Cup Final rematch against the Shreveport Mudbugs, 1-0. Cade Neilson, who scored a power play goal in the Saturday preseason game at North Iowa, piled up three goals and three assists in Blaine to lead the Aberdeen effort. The British native highlighted his week with a goal and two assists in the Wings’ 6-3 win over the Springfield Jr. Blues.
IT’S THE CLIMB: Carsen Stokes has settled in quite nicely at the NAHL level after making the jump from the North Iowa Bulls’ Fraser Cup championship team last year, with a .958 save percentage last week against his former team. In the win over the Wilderness, he defeated one of the two Division I-committed goaltenders (Jacob Zacharewicz, Brown University) that he found himself stuck behind last year before joining the North Iowa roster.
HUNTING FOR HIS FIRST WIN TOO: This weekend could see the North Iowa debut of goaltender Hunter Garvey, who was not with the team during either its preseason run or trip to the NAHL Showcase. He earned a preseason call-up to the United States Hockey League and the nearby Waterloo Black Hawks, who are beginning their regular season this weekend at the USHL Fall Classic in Pittsburgh. He only appeared once for Waterloo, battling to a 5-2 loss with 24 saves against the Fargo Force two weeks ago in the league’s Western Conference Shootout in Sioux City. The Hawks didn’t give him much help at the other end of the ice either, putting up just 14 shots and allowing eight power plays to the Force. His 2020-21 campaign in Amarillo was a hard-luck season, earning four wins but taking five overtime losses.
HUNDO P: North Iowa’s captain is coming off of an outstanding game in a milestone appearance last Saturday against the Kenai River Brown Bears – Ryan Coughlin made his 100th NAHL appearance in a 6-2 win, notching a goal and an assist. The mark does not include his four playoff appearances in last season’s South Division Semifinals against Shreveport, nor does it include three USHL games split between the Omaha Lancers and Muskegon Lumberjacks.