Granite City Holds Off Bulls, Takes First Place in West Division


MASON CITY, Iowa – For the first time ever, the NA3HL’s number-one showdown headed downtown in Mason City on Friday night. A physical contest between the North Iowa Bulls and the Granite City Lumberjacks went to the visitors, with the ‘Jacks earning a 5-3 win and taking over first place in the NA3HL’s West Division. Each team has 56 points in the standings coming out of Friday’s game, but Granite City now holds the edge on wins, as well as winning percentage.

The Bulls were the first team to grab a power play, and it wasn’t a long one – Nathan Green was sent to the box on a holding infraction with 2:30 left in the first period, and Matt Dahlseide’s (Maplewood, Minn./North Iowa Bulls) goal-line toss just 13 seconds later ended up in the back of the net for the 1-0 lead.

Troy Dahlheimer answered quickly, limiting North Iowa’s lead to just 39 seconds and evening the game at 1-1 heading to the second period. Tal Halliday’s shot toward the North Iowa net was knocked out by Evan Babekuhl (Long Lake, Minn./North Iowa Bulls), and Bailey Sommers briefly got a poke at the puck on the rebound, but Dahlheimer was able to put away the third chance.

In the middle stanza, it was the Lumberjacks who grabbed the advantage, though their first lead would be even more brief than the Bulls’. A shot from Sommers on the left wing was kicked out wide to Ryan Pogue, who was coming up the right side of a 2-on-1 rush, and Pogue put away the extra chance at 4:48 to give Granite City a 2-1 lead. Just 28 seconds later, Cam Fagerlee (St. Anthony, Minn./North Iowa Bulls) set up Sota Isogai (Nagano, Japan/Okanagan U20) off the back post to bang in a one-timer to tie the game at 2-2.

The Lumberjacks out-shot North Iowa 15-4 in the second period, and rebounds again proved costly shortly after the game’s halfway mark. Nicholas Richert was unsuccessful in his attempt to put one away from the right side, but Carson Simon was waiting out front to push in the rebound and give Granite City the lead with 9:04 to go in the middle period.

The Lumberjacks would get some insurance with 5:40 left in the period, with Nick Plautz’s goal from the right half giving the visitors the 4-2 lead. His goal would prove to be the game-winner, but Landon Johnson would give the guests a little extra breathing room with a snipe of his own from the left-wing faceoff circle at the 1:21 mark of the final period.

North Iowa wouldn’t go away, though, with Isogai and Fagerlee tag-teaming again on a one-timer with 3:31 to go. This time, it was Isogai setting Fagerlee a pass on the doorstep, and his rocket from the right half put the Bulls back within two. A boarding call against Noah Roitman (Inver Grove Heights, Minn./Simley H.S.) with 2:56 to go, though, put the Bulls behind the eight-ball, and North Iowa was not able to score again in the game’s waning moments.

“They had us on our toes in that second period,” said Fagerlee. “I thought in that third period, we came back and played physical like we needed to. We need to bring that into [Saturday].”

Isogai and Fagerlee each notched a goal and an assist, while Dahlheimer matched it for the Lumberjacks. Sommers and Halliday each notched two assists in helping the Lumberjacks move to 28-5-0-0 on the year. North Iowa fell to 27-5-2-0 with the loss, seeing a seven-game winning streak come to a close.

Babekuhl took the loss with 23 saves on 28 Granite City shots, exiting the game after Johnson’s goal early in the third. Joe Daninger (Blaine, Minn./Blaine H.S.) held down the North Iowa fort for much of the third, stopping each of the Lumberjacks’ eight shots that he saw. After taking two losses to the Bulls earlier this season, Bailey Huber ran his winning streak to four in a row, making 25 saves in the victory and pushing the Lumberjacks’ winning streak to nine games.

First place in the West will again be on the line Saturday evening as the Bulls and Lumberjacks do battle again at the Mason City Multipurpose Arena. The opening puck drops at 7:30 p.m., with live streaming coverage on HockeyTV and free audio streaming on Mixlr.

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Granite City 1 3 1 – 5
North Iowa 1 1 1 – 3

1st Period-1, North Iowa, Dahlseide 18 (Nauss, Stewart), 17:43 (PP). 2, Granite City, Dahlheimer 10 (Sommers, Halliday), 18:22. Penalties-Green Gcy (holding-minor), 17:30.

2nd Period-3, Granite City, Pogue 10 (Sommers, Dahlheimer), 4:48. 4, North Iowa, Isogai 16 (Fagerlee, Triemert), 5:16. 5, Granite City, Simon 18 (Richert, Lantz), 10:56. 6, Granite City, Plautz 6 (Green, Dias), 14:20. Penalties-Bronson Gcy (roughing-minor), 17:04; Fagerlee Nio (roughing-minor), 17:04.

3rd Period-7, Granite City, Johnson 3 (Halliday), 1:23. 8, North Iowa, Fagerlee 17 (Isogai, Saltness), 16:29. Penalties-Schuldt Gcy (interference-minor), 3:54; Petronack Nio (cross checking-minor), 12:00; Roitman Nio (boarding-minor), 17:03; Bronson Gcy (slashing-minor), 17:48; Fagerlee Nio (roughing-minor), 17:48; Green Gcy (roughing-minor), 19:49; Dahlseide Nio (roughing-minor, unsportsmanlike conduct – 10 minute), 19:49; Saltness Nio (interference-minor), 19:49.

Shots on Goal-Granite City 11-15-10-36. North Iowa 14-4-10-28.
Power Play Opportunities-Granite City 0 / 3; North Iowa 1 / 2.
Goalies-Granite City, Huber 12-4-0-0 (28 shots-25 saves). North Iowa, Babekuhl 9-2-0-0 (28 shots-23 saves); Daninger 7-0-0-0 (8 shots-8 saves).
Referees-Jared Cummins.
Linesmen-Aaron Mostrom, Daniel Van Loon.