ROCHESTER, Minn. – The numbers were definitely against North Iowa on Saturday night when the Rochester Grizzlies went to the first intermission with a 1-0 lead.
Going into the weekend, the Grizzlies were 15-2 when scoring the first goal. Going to the first-period break with a lead this season? 10-for-10.
The only number the Bulls concerned themselves with was their digit on the scoreboard, which they changed three times in a 3-1 win to cap off the 2018 calendar year. The win was North Iowa’s sixth straight, and their first road win against the Grizzlies. North Iowa dropped a 3-1 contest to Rochester in their previous road trip to the Med City in September, and split a two-game home series the week after Thanksgiving.
Brock Hildenbrand’s shot from the blue line found its way through the traffic and past Dysen Skinner (Billings, Mont./Sioux Falls Jr. Stampede U18) at 6:43 of the first period for the initial Grizzlies goal. A Walter Brandt (Richfield, Minn./Edina Jr. Gold) tripping penalty at 5:28 of the opening stanza opened the door for the league’s number-four power play unit to take the lead.
A 67-second span of the second period proved to be the turning point. Erik Evans (Minneapolis, Minn./Granite City Lumberjacks) fed one to the backdoor for Matt Dahlseide (Maplewood, Minn./North Iowa Bulls), who tapped in a one-timer at 8:40 of the second period to tie the contest. That goal gave the Bulls new life, but it also gave Dahlseide a point in his 16th straight game, putting his run among the top five in Bulls history.
“I’m just trying to do everything I can,” said Dahlseide. “I like possessing the puck – I’m more of a playmaker than a goal-scorer, but I’ll take a goal when I can get it. I love passing the puck and playing with Pete (Verstegen) and Erik (Evans). We do a great job down low, just getting pucks to the net. I’ve just got to keep going and do what I can do to make this team successful.”
At 9:47, Nick Johnson (New Richmond, Wis./Team Wisconsin) teamed up with Marco Escobar (Plainfield, Ill./Sioux Falls Jr. Stampede U18) to put away the go-ahead goal and flip the scenario from a one-goal North Iowa deficit to a one-goal lead.
An odd play gave the Bulls a 3-1 lead early in the third period. On a 2-on-1, Peter Verstegen’s (Oshkosh, Wis./North Iowa Bulls) shot cranked off the glass behind the goal, but was misplayed by the Rochester defense before trickling behind Liam Kelly and into the back of the net. Dahlseide also picked up an assist on that play.
The Grizzlies spent almost three minutes of the final period with an extra skater on the ice trying to make up the two-goal gap, and had a lengthy 6-on-3 opportunity with under three minutes to go after back-to-back Bulls infractions from Verstegen and Jarod Blackowiak (Eden Prairie, Minn./North Iowa Bulls). Skinner and the Bulls defense kept the slate clean over the home stretch, though, walking off the ice with a hard-fought win.
North Iowa climbs to 22-6-0-0 with the win, and moves into the NA3HL West Division points lead with 44 points in 28 games. Granite City still holds the better winning percentage, with 43 points in 26 games. Rochester drops to 20-8-0-0 with the loss.
Skinner’s win was his eighth straight, moving his personal record to 10-2-0-0 for the year. He stopped 21 of the Grizzlies’ 22 shots, while Kelly made 26 saves in falling to 3-4-0-0. Each team had three power-play chances, with only Rochester capitalizing on its opportunity.
As Dahlseide looks to continue his offensive run, the next man up on the list is a teammate. Cam Fagerlee (St. Anthony, Minn./North Iowa Bulls) started his junior career last season with an 18-game point streak. Matching Tim Santopaolo’s 19-game point streak would tie him for the third-longest in franchise history.
The Bulls return home Friday, January 4 to begin 2019 with a home-and-home set against the New Ulm Steel. The Steel visit Mason City on Friday night, with a 7:30 p.m. faceoff at the North Iowa Ice Arena. The Bulls make a road trip to New Ulm the following night for a 7:10 p.m. puck drop. Live coverage of both of those games is available on HockeyTV, with free audio streaming Saturday night on Mixlr.
North Iowa returns to home ice on January 4 for “Cinemania Night” against the New Ulm Steel, featuring appearances from some of your favorite movie characters, including the Minions, Frozen’s Olaf, Spiderman and Spongebob Squarepants. For advance tickets to that game or any future Bulls home game, click here.
North Iowa 0 2 1 – 3
Rochester 1 0 0 – 1
1st Period-1, Rochester, Hildenbrand 4 (Newman, Szabo), 6:43 (PP). Penalties-Brandt Nio (tripping-minor), 5:28; Svoboda Roc (elbowing-minor), 15:42.
2nd Period-2, North Iowa, Dahlseide 14 (Evans, Bogach), 8:40. 3, North Iowa, Escobar 11 (Johnson, Fagerlee), 9:47. Penalties-Mehren Roc (high sticking-minor), 14:12.
3rd Period-4, North Iowa, Dahlseide 15 0:33. Penalties-Rozman Nio (roughing-minor), 15:53; Olson Roc (unsportsmanlike conduct-minor, roughing-minor, removing opp helmet during fight-match), 15:53; Blackowiak Nio (interference-minor), 17:04; Verstegen Nio (tripping-minor), 17:21; Blackowiak Nio (unsportsmanlike conduct-minor), 19:29; Bacon Roc (unsportsmanlike conduct-minor), 19:29.
Shots on Goal-North Iowa 11-11-7-29. Rochester 8-7-7-22.
Power Play Opportunities-North Iowa 0 / 0; Rochester 1 / 0.
Goalies-North Iowa, Skinner 10-2-0-0 (22 shots-21 saves). Rochester, Kelly 3-4-0-0 (29 shots-26 saves).
Linesmen-Matthew Heinen, Grant Crowell.