MASON CITY, Iowa – Carmen Dalesandro's (Cannonsburg, PA) two goals propelled the North Iowa Bulls in their final regular-season contest against the Breezy Point North Stars on Saturday night, taking home a 4-1 win and maintaining first place in the NA3HL's West Division. Those two goals also extended Dalesandro's current point streak to four games.
Jon Severson (Rockford, IL) continued his strong start as a Bull, putting his team on the board first at the 12:55 mark of the opening period, following Austin Jackson's (Waterloo, IA) pickup of a loose puck at center ice. Jackson raced in against North Stars goalie Joe Licata, but the Breezy Point netminder left a rebound on the doorstep for Severson to put away. Dalesandro would benefit from a loose puck at center ice just a few minutes later, putting away the insurance goal on a double-deke in front of the net at 15:12. That two-goal lead would almost survive the period, but with 16 seconds left before the intermission, Breezy Point's Joe Costello got his stick under a puck in front of the net and chipped it over Tommi Ahlgren's (Tampere, Finland) left pad to cut the lead in half heading to the locker room.
That goal would turn out to be the only tally the North Stars would get on the night, and Dalesandro's first goal was all his team needed. For good measure, though, Dalesandro added a second goal at the 2:40 mark of the second period on a pass to the high slot, as the Bulls' special teams made their presence known. Brett Gravelle's (Forest Lake, MN) power play goal out of a scramble in front capped off the scoring with 8:40 to play in the second period. The third period would end in an almost entirely uneventful manner, with no scoring, only one penalty and a slight shots-on-goal advantage for North Iowa.
"You look at that [third] line with Dalesandro and Dylan Zins (Prior Lake, MN) paired up with Jackson, and as a unit they've been very successful for us," says head coach Todd Sanden. "The fact that they were able to score goals tonight wasn't a surprise, but they were timely goals, and those obviously helped us win the hockey game."
Ahlgren finished with 29 saves on Breezy Point's 30 shots on goal. Due to a smattering of injuries and illnesses, plus Kohei Sato's (Tokyo, Japan) brief departure to join the Japanese entry in this week's Division I-B World Junior tournament in Hungary, the Bulls only dressed 17 players in the game, going without a fourth forward line.
"What I was really excited about was the discipline that we played with," says Sanden. "That was something that we talked about with a short bench, that we would have to be disciplined and not take penalties and wear ourselves down. It was a pretty solid 120-minute effort by our guys this weekend."
The win was the eighth and final win for the Bulls against Breezy Point during the regular season, with no more games scheduled against the North Stars prior to a potential Silver Cup playoff matchup. North Iowa moves to 22-5-0 with the victory, while Breezy Point drops to 8-22-1. The Bulls host their final home games of 2014 next weekend against the Minnesota Flying Aces, with Teddy Bear Toss night scheduled for Friday, and a Koozie Night giveaway on Saturday. The opening faceoff both nights is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. at the North Iowa Ice Arena.