MASON CITY, Iowa – After three losses in Sauk Rapids against the Granite City Lumberjacks earlier this season, the North Iowa Bulls got a much-needed point in the head-to-head series Friday night at the North Iowa Ice Arena.
However, they were 10:35 away from getting the two points they really wanted.
The Lumberjacks snuck back from down a goal twice, with Blake Spetz grabbing the game-winner 1:48 into the extra session, and Granite City took a 3-2 overtime win. The victory was their fifth in a row in the head-to-head series, and ninth in their last 11 outings against the Bulls.
After playing his first two weekends for the Bulls away from the “Barn,” Carter Wagner (Lino Lakes, Minn./Minnesota Magicians) made himself right at home with his first goal in front of the home fans just five minutes into the contest. Right after Zach Wilson’s cross-checking penalty directly in front of the North Iowa bench, Peter Verstegen (Oshkosh, Wis./North Iowa Bulls) won the draw in the Granite City zone, with Wagner blasting one from the right-wing faceoff circle for the early lead.
At the 53-second mark of the second period, a slashing penalty against Cam Fagerlee (St. Anthony, Minn./North Iowa Bulls) opened the door for the visitors. Less than a minute later, a mid-slot wrister jumped away from Dysen Skinner (Billings, Mont./Sioux Falls Jr. Stampede 18U) in front of the net, allowing Bailey Sommers to face-and-fire for the tying goal.
The second period yielded only two penalties, but each team had its say on the power play in the middle stanza. A second penalty against Wilson ended in a second Bulls goal with the extra man.
With time winding down on the power play, a toss from Hank Nagel (Mound, Minn./Mound-Westonka H.S.) found its way into traffic in front of the net, but Jimmy McDermott (Dubuque, Iowa/Wisconsin Whalers) grabbed the loose puck and swept it past David Mulligan for a 2-1 lead.
That one-goal lead held until the 9:25 mark of the final period. Trevor Dummer tossed the puck into the corner from just inside the blue line, and the pass back to Dummer off the carom allowed him to snap the puck past Skinner, tying the contest at 2-2.
Mulligan made a pair of saves in the overtime period, but it only took the one shot for Granite City to make its mark. Tom Nagle helped to jar the puck free from Brendan Studioso (Mukilteo, Wash./North Iowa Bulls) in front of the North Iowa bench, while Spetz galloped the puck up the right wing. A snap from the top of the faceoff circles beat Skinner on his blocker side, giving the ‘Jacks the game-winner.
Special teams were key for both teams, with all of the game’s first three goals coming on the power play. North Iowa finished the night 2-for-3 with the extra man, while Granite City wrapped up with a 1-for-4 power play mark.
Mulligan remains unbeaten in seven games all-time against the Bulls, making 32 saves and moving to 15-2-1-0 on the year. Skinner fell to 11-3-2-0, despite making 29 saves.
With the loss, Granite City was able to extend its West Division lead to eight points over Rochester and North Iowa, who has two games in hand on the Grizzlies. The Lumberjacks now stand 28-6-2-0 on the year, while the Bulls fall to 24-9-2-0. The two teams get together again Saturday night in Mason City, with a 7:30 p.m. puck drop. Live streaming coverage is available on HockeyTV, with free audio streaming on Mixlr.
Saturday’s game continues our “Rock the Barn” weekend against the Lumberjacks, courtesy of Coca-Cola and the Atlantic Bottling Company. Kids will be admitted free to Saturday night’s game as North Iowa continues its quest to climb to the top of the West Division standings. For advance tickets to Saturday’s game or any future Bulls home game, click here.
Granite City 0 1 1 1 – 3
North Iowa 1 1 0 0 – 2
1st Period-1, North Iowa, Wagner 3 (Verstegen), 5:01 (PP). Penalties-Wilson Gcy (cross checking-minor), 4:58; Carlson Nio (holding-minor), 7:11; Flattum Gcy (roughing-minor), 15:58; Studioso Nio (high sticking-minor), 15:58; Dummer Gcy (high sticking-minor), 18:19.
2nd Period-2, Granite City, Sommers 22 (Ohmes, Salz), 1:45 (PP). 3, North Iowa, McDermott 10 (Blackowiak, Nagel), 17:26 (PP). Penalties-Fagerlee Nio (slashing-minor), 0:53; Wilson Gcy (slashing-minor), 15:35.
3rd Period-4, Granite City, Dummer 11 (Schwehr, DeBoom), 9:25. Penalties-Bogach Nio (checking from behind-minor), 2:46; Flattum Gcy (roughing-minor), 10:13; Fagerlee Nio (roughing-minor), 10:13; Wilson Gcy (fighting-major, fighting-ej), 10:23; McDermott Nio (fighting-major, fighting-ej), 10:23; Studioso Nio (tripping-minor), 16:17.
OT Period-5, Granite City, Spetz 7 (Nagle), 1:48. Penalties-No Penalties
Shots on Goal-Granite City 11-7-13-1-32. North Iowa 10-12-10-2-34.
Power Play Opportunities-Granite City 1 / 4; North Iowa 2 / 3.
Goalies-Granite City, Mulligan 15-2-1-0 (34 shots-32 saves). North Iowa, Skinner 11-3-2-0 (32 shots-29 saves).
Linesmen-Andrew Bartholomay, Zach Carson.