March 26, 2021 – 7:30 p.m.
Sports Arena East – Sauk Rapids, Minn.
NORTH IOWA BULLS (26-10-1-1)
@ GRANITE CITY LUMBERJACKS (25-11-0-1)
COVERAGE: HockeyTV (video/$)
LIVE STATS: CLICK HERE
BULLS vs. GRANITE CITY ALL-TIME: 43-29-7
TONIGHT’S PROMOTIONS: North Iowa awaits its playoff schedule, with home-ice advantage wrapped up for the first round. The playoff opener will feature a Bulls trading card giveaway, with a full set of North Iowa trading cards to the first 100 fans in the building. For a schedule of upcoming promotions, click here.
RIVALRY RETIREMENT: Depending on how the NA3HL West Division semifinals shake themselves out in two weeks, this weekend may be the last time these teams see each other after a tremendous 10-year rivalry between the teams. Friday’s game will be the 42nd time the teams have met at Sports Arena East, where the Bulls will most likely wrap up just a touch under .500 all-time. Granite City won eight of their first 10 home games against the Bulls before North Iowa caught up during their historic 2013-14 season – this year, North Iowa has won two of three in Sauk Rapids. The all-time series of home games is not quite evenly split, thanks to Granite City’s hosting of the entire 2012 West Division Finals and the Bulls’ home-ice advantage in the 2014 and 2015 West Division Finals..
ONE IS THE LONELIEST NUMBER: Willmar’s 3-1 win on Wednesday night over Granite City was a tremendous and undeniable help to North Iowa in the Bulls’ chase for a West Division crown – thanks to the WarHawks’ midweek victory, North Iowa simply needs one win to take the championship. Should the teams split on the weekend, the worst-case scenario for the Bulls would be a tie at 56 points and another tie at 27 wins (the primary tiebreaker). The second tiebreaker is head-to- head competition, which would favor North Iowa with six wins in 10 meetings. However, a sweep for either team nets that team the title. A division crown would be North Iowa’s eighth in a 10-year span, while Granite City is hunting for its sixth – both teams won division titles during North Iowa’s time in the Central Division from 2015-18.
NOT JUST FOR HORSESHOES AND HAND GRENADES: There’s still much to be decided, but this is likely to be the closest division race in North Iowa history – the Bulls won a 75-71 race for the West Division championship during the 2014-15 season, taking advantage of four shootout losses by the Lumberjacks, but no other division race has come down to the final weekend for North Iowa. For Granite City, however, no division race is likely to top the West Division race of 2017-18, a season in which the Bulls were finishing a three-year stint in the Central. In that season, the ‘Jacks and New Ulm tied for the West Division championship with 66 points apiece, thanks to a season-ending nine-game winning streak for Granite City. Not to be out-done, the Alexandria Blizzard were right in the hunt as well, settling for third place with 64 points and carrying a four-game winning streak of their own into the Fraser Cup playoffs.
MEDIA NOTES (click the arrow to expand):