ST. PETERS, Mo. – The task is always easy to describe, but never simple to execute. For the North Iowa Bulls, their situation on Saturday afternoon at the North American Tier 3 Hockey League’s Fraser Cup championship tournament was a simple one – simply get their game against the Northeast Generals to overtime and move on to the semifinals on Sunday afternoon.
Win in any fashion, and grab the top seed out of the afternoon pool.
With the East Division champion Generals trying to scrap back into the tournament after suffering a record-breaking 13-2 loss to the Sheridan Hawks on Thursday afternoon, the Bulls carried plenty of confidence into Saturday’s Pool A finale, and carried at least as much of it back to the hotel with them after an 8-1 win, giving them five of a possible six points in the round-robin standings.
Just like Friday afternoon’s game against the Hawks, the teams battled to an early stalemate, with North Iowa’s defense keeping the Northeast shot chart blank for more than 11 minutes to open the day.
However, the Bulls broke the tie with 5:33 to play in the period when Jac Triemert (Woodbury, Minn./North Iowa Bulls) pushed in a rebound on Carter Newpower’s (Cottage Grove, Minn./Park H.S.) initial chance, giving North Iowa an early 1-0 lead.
Coincidental minors to Brayden Uttech (Sun Prairie, Wis./Wisconsin Rapids Riverkings) and Carson Asper with 3:28 to play in the period opened up the offensive zone for North Iowa, and Gavin Wendorf (Richfield, Minn./Dauphin Kings) took advantage with a shot from the right point that Jack Campion (Crystal, Minn./Armstrong-Cooper H.S.) was able to tip in for a 2-0 lead.
The Bulls cruised to a 14-5 shots-on-goal advantage in the opening 20 minutes, but needed more than half of the second period to tack on more. The Generals gave up a costly turnover in front of their net with just over eight minutes to play in the period, and Carson Jones (Eden Prairie, Minn./Kenai River Brown Bears) found Newpower on the backdoor for the quick strike and a 3-0 lead.
Jake Hosszu’s roughing minor just a few minutes later gave the Bulls a chance on the man-advantage, and Campion notched his second goal of the night on a shot from the left point from Sean Sullivan (Middleton, Wis./North Iowa Bulls) with 5:43 to play in the period. With 33 seconds to go, a setup pass from Nick Mohs-Messerli (Orono, Minn./Orono H.S.) in front of the Northeast net hit Hayden Fox (Anchorage, Alaska/Team Alaska 18U) on the doorstep, and his quick tap-in gave the Bulls a five-goal lead and a boatload of momentum going to the final period.
The third period heated up considerably, with a total of 52 penalty minutes, including three Generals misconducts. North Iowa took the heat in stride just seven seconds after an early slashing infraction on Braeden Kennedy, picking up another tally at the 99-second mark as Lucas Jorgenson (Orono, Minn./Holy Family H.S.) cleaned up the rebound in front of the net off of a left-wing throw from Brendan Sloth (Anoka, Minn./Minnesota Wilderness)
The Generals were able to get on the board just past the five-minute mark of the period after a drop pass at the left point from Gijs De Schepper and a shot from James Clarke. With several players scrambling for a rebound in front of the net, Clarke found the puck to the left of Carsen Stokes (Prior Lake, Minn./Minnesota Wilderness) and threw it into the back of the cage to cut the deficit to 6-1.
North Iowa added on with a pair of rapid-fire goals in the latter stages of the period, with Newpower feeding Triemert for a one-timer on the left post with eight minutes to play and a one-timer from Sota Isogai (Nagano, Japan/North Iowa Bulls) off of Max Savaloja’s (Eau Claire, Wis./Memorial H.S.) feed from the right-wing corner just 63 seconds later.
The Bulls ended with their biggest win since clinching their initial Fraser Cup playoff bid back on February 20, and their most successful offensive output since an 8-1 win over the New Ulm Steel on February 6. North Iowa is up to five power play goals for the postseason after their barrage on Saturday, with three of them coming in an 18-minute span of this game. In the end, North Iowa finished with a 3-for-8 mark on the power play, while Northeast finished 0-for-2.
“We wanted to make sure our details were the same as we’ve been working on all year,” said Campion. “Our fundamentals, everything that we’ve been doing all year, we want to build good habits for these next games that we have coming up. These are huge games, and we’ve got to stay (true) to our game.”
Stokes was masterful in net once again, making 18 saves to hold his goals-against average below 1.00 for the tournament. The Bulls’ offense, meanwhile, kept Patrick Colburn’s hands full with 33 saves on 41 shots. Campion closed the day as the game’s top scorer with two goals and an assist, while Triemert knocked in two tallies of his own.
As the top seed out of the tournament’s afternoon pool, North Iowa will face the Oklahoma City Blazers in the semifinals, who defeated the Texas Brahmas to snag the second-place finish from the evening pool. The Blazers’ roster features five former North Iowa players.
The Bulls’ semifinal contest gets underway at noon on Sunday at the St. Peters Rec-Plex while Pool B champion Rochester will face Sheridan in the second semifinal at 3 p.m. Live streaming coverage of the entire Fraser Cup championship tournament is available exclusively on HockeyTV.
2021-22 season tickets are on sale now as North Iowa makes its move to the North American Hockey League, with a 10-percent early-bird discount in effect through April 30. Updated news and information on the Bulls’ 10th Anniversary season and Fraser Cup run are always available at www.northiowabulls.com, and by following the team’s social media platforms on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.
North Iowa 2 3 3 – 8
Northeast 0 0 1 – 1
1st Period-1, North Iowa, Triemert 1 (Newpower, Jones), 14:27. 2, North Iowa, Campion 1 (Wendorf, Smith), 16:51. Penalties-De Schepper Net (holding-minor), 4:29; Uttech Nio (head contact-minor), 16:32; Asper Net (high sticking-minor), 16:32.
2nd Period-3, North Iowa, Newpower 1 (Jones), 11:56. 4, North Iowa, Campion 2 (Sullivan, Jorgenson), 14:17 (PP). 5, North Iowa, Fox 1 (Campion, Mohs-Messerli), 19:33. Penalties-Dent Net (delay of game-minor), 8:11; Jones Nio (slashing-minor), 9:21; Wendorf Nio (roughing-minor), 11:22; Kaminski Net (roughing-minor), 11:22; Hosszu Net (roughing-minor), 12:43.
3rd Period-6, North Iowa, Jorgenson 1 (Sloth, Newpower), 1:39 (PP). 7, Northeast, Clarke 1 (De Schepper, Asper), 5:03. 8, North Iowa, Triemert 2 (Newpower, Huffman), 12:00 (PP). 9, North Iowa, Isogai 1 (Savaloja, Mohs-Messerli), 13:03. Penalties-Kaminski Net (charging-minor), 0:32; Kennedy Net (slashing-minor), 1:32; Uttech Nio (roughing-minor), 3:26; Dent Net (roughing-minor), 4:30; Triemert Nio (goalie interference-minor), 8:10; Dent Net (roughing-minor), 8:10; Kaminski Net (cross checking-minor, unsportsmanlike conduct-10 minute misconduct), 11:12; Hosszu Net (unsportsmanlike conduct-10 minute misconduct), 13:03; Fox Nio (unsportsmanlike conduct-minor, roughing-minor), 13:17; Asper Net (roughing-minor, unsportsmanlike conduct – 10 minute), 13:17; Kaminski Net (cross checking-minor), 13:17.
Shots on Goal-North Iowa 14-15-12-41. Northeast 5-7-7-19.
Power Play Opportunities-North Iowa 3 / 8; Northeast 0 / 2.
Goalies-North Iowa, Stokes (19 shots-18 saves). Northeast, Colburn (41 shots-33 saves).
Referees-Caleb Andrade, William Fraser.
Linesmen-Michal Daltrey, Grant Crowell.