MASON CITY, Iowa – When the North Iowa Bulls begin the 2022-23 preseason on Wednesday evening, they’ll get their first chance ever to “bring the sting” against a visitor from the South Division. North Iowa welcomes the Corpus Christi IceRays for a midweek exhibition, the first meeting unofficially or otherwise between the two teams.
Preseason ticket specials and a postgame skate mark the special occasion for this Corpus Christi clash – tickets for this game are just $5 for adults and $3 for kids under the age of 13 and are available at the door on game night. Combo tickets will also be available for just $8 that include admission to this game and the Mason City Toros’ home game against the Frisk Asker U20 team from Norway on Sunday, September 11.
Fans can join the players on the ice following Wednesday’s game for a special meet-and-greet skate, giving them a chance to reconnect with their favorite North Iowa players and meet the newest players in town. It’ll be a brief chance for the players to let their hair down ahead of a weekend road trip, with two games on the slate in Aberdeen, South Dakota against the Wings on Friday and Saturday.
To purchase advance tickets to upcoming North Iowa Bulls home games, call 641-423-4625 or click here. Updated news and information on North Iowa Bulls hockey are always available at www.northiowabulls.com, and by following the team’s social media platforms on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.
|September 7, 2022 – 7:00 p.m.
Mason City Arena
Mason City, Iowa
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IN A NUTSHELL: North Iowa welcomes a sojourner from the South Division for the first-ever meeting between the Bulls and IceRays.
THE SCENE-SETTER: The Bulls open a brand-new preseason Wednesday after a 22-28-4-6 season a year ago, finishing sixth in the Central Division in their inaugural season as a North American Hockey League program. North Iowa wrapped up its 2021-22 campaign with a 7-0 road loss to division champ and eventual Robertson Cup qualifier St. Cloud – the Norsemen took the lead on a goal from Blake Perbix 4:33 into the contest and capped it with three goals in the final four minutes and change. Goaltender Hunter Garvey closed the night with 45 saves, tying for his second-highest mark of the season.
KNOW YOUR FOE: Corpus Christi returned to the rink in 2021-22 after sitting out the 2020-21 campaign in the midst of the worldwide COVID pandemic – the team virtually started from scratch after a year away, finishing in seventh place in the South Division with 25 wins. After sending six players to the NCAA ranks and seeing Hunter McDonald taken in the sixth round of the National Hockey League draft over the summer, the IceRays named longtime pro hockey player Sylvain Cloutier their head coach, 13 years after a previous coaching stint on the Gulf Coast during the IceRays’ tenure in the minor-pro Central Hockey League. Corpus Christi will look to tack onto their total of tallies this season, after finishing 25th out of 29 teams in scoring a year ago, and will hunt for its first Robertson Cup postseason berth since 2019. Nine 2001-born players aged out of the IceRays program after last year, including four on the blue line alone.
ANCIENT HISTORY: The two teams have never met, either in NAHL competition or exhibition play during the Bulls’ NA3HL days, but there is a little history between the teams. North Iowa forward Marshall Barnes signed an NAHL tender with the IceRays ahead of the 2016-17 season after helping to lead the 2015-16 Bulls to a Silver (now Fraser) Cup championship – he would not remain in Corpus Christi, but his 85 points that year for the Bulls were enough to get them back to the NA3HL championship tournament and net him the Central Division MVP award. Mason City Toros forward Matt Kochanowski also inked an NAHL tender this past offseason, hours ahead of the NAHL Draft in June.
LET’S GET TOGETHER: The new season will bring some new opportunities for fans to meet each other and their favorite players, starting with Wednesday’s postgame meet-and-greet skate, which will allow Bulls fans to meet their favorite new players in town and get together once again with players returning from last year’s team. The arena’s club room has also been converted into the “Bullpen” gameday bar for Bulls games, featuring new drink options and the ability to host in-game entertainment such as a musician or standup comedian. Several raffles are on tap for Wednesday’s game, including a raffle for a 10-pack of Bulls flex tickets, and free early entry into the Bulls’ October raffle for a “Pink the Rink” jersey at the team’s first jersey auction later this season. Fans can also purchase 2022-23 season passes at Wednesday’s game for a 10% discount, the final season-pass discount available before the regular season begins next week.
FOUR THE GOOD OF THE CAUSE: With both teams looking to whittle down an abundance of talent (and needing the ice time in which to do it), the Bulls and IceRays will play four periods in this preseason contest instead of three. This format is not unheard of for a North Iowa preseason contest – the Bulls opened their 2020 preseason against the Rochester Grizzlies with a four-period showdown, winning by a 5-2 score. North Iowa’s final game as an NA3HL member came at the other end of the season, with a 5-1 win over the Grizzlies in the Fraser Cup championship game.