MINOT, N.D. – Last year, Braden Fischer put himself head and shoulders above the rest of the pack in the Manitoba Junior Hockey League as a member of the Virden Oil Capitals. After Friday’s game between the Minot Minotauros and the North Iowa Bulls, he’s off to a good start in the North American Hockey League as well.
Fischer posted a goal and an assist, including the game-winning tally early in the third period, as the Minotauros held on to defeat the Bulls by a 3-2 count, despite North Iowa’s spirited second-period comeback. Minot grabbed the lead early – just 1:21 into the game, after Fischer’s attempt to push the puck through goaltender Mitch Day (St. Louis, Mo./St. Louis Blues AAA), Max Martin found a seam near Day’s right leg and tapped home the second chance to give the hosts the 1-0 lead.
The power play units were exceptional early in the game, and Minot got the first crack after a first-period hooking call against Blake Johnson (Elk River, Minn./Elk River H.S.). With just seven seconds left on the power play clock, Jan-Kasper Bergman found Cooper Rice in front of the net, who rattled one into the top corner of the cage to make it 2-0 with 8:31 remaining in the period.
Minot out-shot North Iowa 13-6 in the first period and added to the margin with an 11-7 second period, but North Iowa evened up the score by taking advantage of a pair of opportunities in the middle stanza. Weston Knox spent just 28 seconds in the box on his hooking call, as Simone Dadie (Brunico, Italy/North Iowa Bulls) walked the puck out of the corner and put the moves on a defender before snapping a backhand shot past Lawton Zacher at the four-minute mark to cut the lead to 2-1.
The Minotauros almost took the lead into the third period, but Justin Mexico (Madison Heights, Mich./North Iowa Bulls) would tie the game for North Iowa with just 37 seconds left in the period, nudging the puck past Zacher off of an initial point-blank chance from Isaac Deveau (Lorraine, Quebec/Andre-Laurendeau).
The two teams went into the third period with an eye on snatching the momentum, and the Minotauros did just that in the opening moments of the third period. With both teams trying to corral a bouncing puck in the slot in front of the North Iowa net, Fischer sneaked just enough of his stick onto the puck to reach through the crowd and tap it past Day’s right leg to give the Minotauros the 3-2 lead just 1:24 out of the intermission.
North Iowa was not able to capitalize on any of its opportunities in the third period, with eight shots on goal and a pair of power plays. The Bulls got close after bringing Day to the bench with 49 seconds remaining, killing off a crucial Minot power play along the way.
Day took the loss, dropping to 1-2 for the season despite making 28 saves on 31 Minot chances. Zacher extended his unbeaten streak to start the season, moving to 3-0 on the year with 19 saves on 21 North Iowa shots.
“We made some mistakes with puck management, and we didn’t go as hard (as we needed to) in the first five minutes of each period,” said Dadie. “We need to be better in the defensive zone, on the boards and getting pucks out. The Minotauros are a team we can beat.”
Both teams wrapped up the night with a 1-for-3 mark on the power play, and both teams wrapped up the evening with a 3-2 mark on the season. Fischer and Martin each netted a goal and an assist, while Trevor Stachowiak posted a pair of helpers. Dadie’s goal was the first of his season, adding a highlight to a week that began on Sunday with his 19th birthday.
North Iowa and Minot return to the ice for a rematch on Saturday evening, with the puck drop scheduled for 7:35 p.m. at the Maysa Arena in Minot. Live streaming coverage is available on HockeyTV Presented by Dakota Fix Shelter Insurance and NorthIowaBulls.com.
The Bulls are just a week away from their home opener October 1 against the Austin Bruins – advance tickets for that game and all upcoming home games are available here. Updated news and information on North Iowa Bulls hockey are always available at www.northiowabulls.com, and by following the team’s social media platforms on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.
North Iowa 0 2 0 – 2
Minot 2 0 1 – 3
1st Period-1, Minot, Martin 2 (Fischer), 1:21. 2, Minot, Rice 1 (Johnson, Stachowiak), 11:29 (PP). Penalties-Johnson Nio (hooking-minor), 9:36.
2nd Period-3, North Iowa, Dadie 1 (Baker), 4:00 (PP). 4, North Iowa, Mexico 3 (Hartley, Deveau), 19:23. Penalties-Knox Mnt (hooking-minor), 3:32; Dombrowsky Nio (kneeing-minor), 9:34.
3rd Period-5, Minot, Fischer 1 (Stachowiak, Martin), 1:24. Penalties-Bergman Mnt (tripping-minor), 4:09; Johnson Mnt (head contact-minor), 11:20; Miller Nio (tripping-minor), 17:07.
Shots on Goal-North Iowa 6-7-8-21. Minot 13-11-7-31.
Power Play Opportunities-North Iowa 1 / 3; Minot 1 / 3.
Goalies-North Iowa, Day 1-2-0-0 (31 shots-28 saves). Minot, Zacher 3-0-0-0 (21 shots-19 saves).
Linesmen-Devin Blada, Jake Stach.