MASON CITY, Iowa – The North Iowa Bulls know a little something about national championships. The history of the Bulls is chock full of hardware, winning the 2013 and 2015 USA Hockey national championships, and scoring a Silver Cup national championship in 2016. The 2014 loss to the Boston Jr. Bruins in the national title game came against a team that eventually saw 17 players make it to the NCAA Division I ranks, or Canadian major-junior leagues.
The team that originally set the tone for winning hockey in North Iowa was in the building for the Bulls’ latest win on Saturday night. The members of the 1989 USA Hockey national junior champion North Iowa Huskies made their return to Mason City to see the Bulls score a 7-3 win over the New Ulm Steel.
With the victory, North Iowa’s magic number for home-ice advantage in the first round of the NA3HL West Division playoffs is down to just three points. The win was also the Bulls’ fifth in six tries against New Ulm on the year.
The Bulls weren’t able to gain an advantage after the opening period despite a 13-4 shots-on-goal count in their favor in the first 20 minutes. Michael Savelkoul put New Ulm ahead first, putting one in the net at 10:35 of the opening period.
With 3:05 left on the clock, Cam Fagerlee (St. Anthony, Minn./North Iowa Bulls) tied the contest heading to the first intermission, sweeping one into the net just off of Henry Baribeau’s right post.
Fagerlee added another one late in the second period, but not before Carter Wagner (Lino Lakes, Minn./Minnesota Magicians) grabbed the lead with a goal at 15:19 of the second period, whipping one into the net from the right-wing faceoff circle.
Fagerlee’s goal came with 2:17 left on the clock, thanks to a pass from Harrison Stewart (Rockford, Ill./Milwaukee Jr. Admirals U18) at the end boards, and Jimmy McDermott’s (Dubuque, Iowa/Wisconsin Whalers) second pass from neutral ice to Fagerlee, who walked it in from the blue line.
North Iowa’s offense took flight in the third period with four additional goals, reaching a 7-1 lead at 12:33 of the final stanza. The hat-trick goal came just 42 seconds into the third period, on a pass out of the corner from Wagner.
McDermott added a goal of his own on the power play barely six minutes later, thanks to a tic-tac-toe toss to the net from Joey Petronack (White Bear Lake, Minn./Hill-Murray H.S.). Fagerlee wasn’t done, though – his fourth goal of the game came at 12:22 of the third, off of Peter Verstegen’s (Oshkosh, Wis./North Iowa Bulls) pass from below the goal line.
Jordan Roo (Champlin, Minn./Benilde-St. Margaret’s H.S.) put the exclamation mark on the game just 11 seconds after Fagerlee’s final goal, following his own initial shot and scoring on Baribeau’s rebound in front of the New Ulm net. Jacob Halvorson and Carson Sandwick scored at 16:45 and 17:23, respectively, in the third period to take care of the Steel scoring for the night.
Fagerlee’s four-goal outing was North Iowa’s first since Jarod Blackowiak’s (Eden Prairie, Minn./Austin Bruins) against the Willmar WarHawks in November, and reset his personal single-game goal-scoring high. His only previous five-point game came last season against the Alexandria Blizzard, in a game where he racked up five assists.
More importantly for the Bulls, it put them back in the win column after a three-game slide against West Division foes. The playoff situation is much simpler for Todd Sanden’s team after its win against the Steel – any North Iowa win against Peoria next weekend and any Rochester loss to the Coulee Region Chill locks up home-ice advantage for the first weekend of the postseason.
Dysen Skinner (Billings, Mont./Sioux Falls Jr. Stampede 18U) notched 22 saves for the win, moving to 16-6-2-0 for the season. Henry Baribeau dropped to 18-13-0-2, making 34 saves on 41 North Iowa scoring chances.
The Bulls moved to 30-12-3-0 with the win, notching their seventh straight 30-win season. New Ulm dropped to 25-17-0-3, falling two points behind the Alexandria Blizzard for the West Division’s final playoff spot with two games remaining.
North Iowa faces the Peoria Mustangs this Friday and Saturday to close out the regular season, with both games set to begin at 7:30 p.m. in Mason City. Live streaming coverage of both games is available on HockeyTV, with free audio streaming on Mixlr.
This coming weekend marks the Bulls’ Superhero Weekend, sponsored by Cent Credit Union. North Iowa will don its final specialty jerseys of the season, which will be auctioned off after Saturday’s game to benefit My Happy Place in Mason City. For advance tickets to those games or any future Bulls home game, click here.
New Ulm 1 0 2 – 3
North Iowa 1 2 4 – 7
1st Period-1, New Ulm, Savelkoul 15 (Ayd), 10:35. 2, North Iowa, Fagerlee 17 (Verstegen, Wagner), 16:55. Penalties-No Penalties
2nd Period-3, North Iowa, Wagner 6 (Fagerlee, Nagel), 15:19. 4, North Iowa, Fagerlee 18 (McDermott, Stewart), 17:43. Penalties-Ford Num (tripping-minor), 10:23.
3rd Period-5, North Iowa, Fagerlee 19 (Wagner, Verstegen), 0:42. 6, North Iowa, McDermott 18 (Petronack, Wagner), 6:52 (PP). 7, North Iowa, Fagerlee 20 (Verstegen, Wagner), 12:22. 8, North Iowa, Roo 8 (Giddings, Petronack), 12:33. 9, New Ulm, Halvorson 18 (Savelkoul, Bauman), 16:45. 10, New Ulm, Sandwick 11 (Johnson, Ford), 17:23. Penalties-Johnson Num (slashing-minor), 6:18.
Shots on Goal-New Ulm 4-13-8-25. North Iowa 13-12-16-41.
Power Play Opportunities-New Ulm 0 / 0; North Iowa 1 / 2.
Goalies-New Ulm, Baribeau 18-13-0-2 (41 shots-34 saves). North Iowa, Skinner 16-6-2-0 (25 shots-22 saves).
Linesmen-Karl Von Haasl.