CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa – As it turns out, every one of North Iowa’s three goaltenders this past weekend had a big game on his schedule and an important role to play.
Evan Babekuhl started Friday’s game against the New Ulm Steel, though Dysen Skinner started Saturday’s game and played the bulk of the minutes for the weekend.
So what about Joseph Daninger? He had an important assignment to take care of in the City of Five Seasons.
Daninger was called up to the United States Hockey League’s Cedar Rapids Roughriders as an emergency backup for Saturday’s game against the Waterloo Black Hawks. Cedar Rapids’s game-night roster had an opening after an injury felled Colorado Avalanche prospect Shamil Shmakov early in the Roughriders’ annual Thanksgiving tilt in Waterloo.
The Blaine, Minnesota native traveled down to Cedar Rapids early on Saturday and quickly settled in, meeting the team coaching staff and touring the arena shortly after arriving. As an emergency backup, Daninger was only allowed to play if starter Derek Mullahy was forced to exit with an injury of his own – Mullahy stayed healthy, though, and allowed only a first-period goal in a 1-0 loss.
“It was an unbelievable atmosphere,” said Daninger. “They have an amazing group of guys down there, some unbelievable coaches and a really amazing fan base. The opportunity to experience what they do on a regular basis, going through their daily routines, is probably something that I’ll never get to experience again. I’m grateful for the opportunity.”
North Iowa has had a history of being “just a phone call away” from the USHL for goaltenders in recent years – Zack St. John earned some practice time with Waterloo during the 2015-16 season, but Josh Benson became the Bulls’ first goalie to suit up for a USHL game the following season. Drew Scites found himself on the bench for the Fargo Force that year as a postseason backup following the Bulls’ season, and Connor Poczos was called into a standby role for Sioux City last season. No North Iowa player or alumnus, however, has been fortunate enough to step onto the ice in a USHL game.
Daninger and the Bulls are now turning their attention to an important weekend, with a visit to Alexandria scheduled for Friday evening. The Blizzard visit on Saturday, as the Bulls step onto the ice for the final time in the North Iowa Ice Arena. Friday’s game gets underway at 7:10 p.m., with a 7:30 puck drop at the “Barn” on Saturday.
Updated news and information on North Iowa Bulls hockey are always available at www.northiowabulls.com, and by following the team on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube. To purchase advance tickets to Bulls home games, call 641-423-4625 or click here.