March 30, 2022 – 6:30 p.m. (Mason City Arena – Mason City, IA)
April 1, 2022 – 7:10 p.m. (Municipal Athletic Complex – St. Cloud, MN)
ST. CLOUD NORSEMEN (34-15-2-1)
vs. NORTH IOWA BULLS (22-23-3-6)
BULLS vs. ST. CLOUD ALL-TIME: 1-2-1
IN A NUTSHELL:
The final stretch of the regular season begins, with the first-place Norsemen on the schedule for four of the final six games.
The Bulls are observing a “Why Not Wednesday” for this game, with $5 adult tickets and free kids’ admission. Domestic beers for this rare midweek home contest are just $2.
HARDWARE FOR HARTLEY:
North Iowa forward Byron Hartley is back on a hot streak, his second scoring run of the season, and it’s netted him some hardware going into the week. Hartley posted two goals and two assists in the Bulls’ three-point weekend, earning his first Central Division Star of the Week award – the Philly native has seven points over his last six games, scoring points in five of the six. Earlier this yeae, he posted 15 points in a 10-game span, with points in eight of those 10 outings.
RAPALJE ON A ROLL:
Bulls forward Carter Rapalje is on a hot streak after posting a goal in Saturday’s game, bumping his mark to four straight games with at least one goal. It’s the fourth time this season that a North Iowa player has gone four straight games with a goal – Byron Hartley posted a four-game goal-scoring streak in early October, while Dylan Gajewski opened his time with the Bulls in December with seven goals in his four-game run. Michael Mesic scored a goal in four straight around the Christmas break. No North Iowa player has scored a goal in five straight games since last season’s five-game early-February run by current Springfield Jr. Blue Carson Jones.
North Iowa’s longest sustained homestand of the year ends with tonight’s game – the Bulls will play their fifth straight home game tonight as part of a run of eight home contests in the final 10 games of the regular season. All three remaining home games will be played in a block as well, from April 8 to 15.
ONE POINT AT A TIME:
Last Saturday’s shootout loss to Minot expanded the gap to six points between the fourth-place Minotauros and North Iowa. The Bulls have two games in hand on Minot, plus the head-to-head tiebreaker, meaning the Minotauros would need to win out, or win three of four with the loss coming in overtime or a shootout, to eliminate North Iowa.
O’ MY GOODNESS:
St. Cloud is the first Central Division team to clinch a playoff spot, eight points clear of the field with two games in hand on second-place Aberdeen. Ryan O’Neill is intent on finishing his junior career on a tear, after recently suiting up for his 150th NAHL game – O’Neill has points in nine straight games, with five goals and 14 assists in that span. He set two new career highs March 18 against Austin, with four assists among a five-point outing.