SAUK RAPIDS, Minn. – There isn’t a puzzle in the NA3HL too tough for the North Iowa Bulls to solve, but the Granite City Lumberjacks have been as hard a team to solve as any during the 2018-19 season. The ‘Jacks posted a four-goal lead by the halfway point of Friday night’s contest before the Bulls made their comeback, but it wasn’t enough in a 4-2 win in the battle of the best two teams in the West Division.
Granite City goals leader Grant Troumbly knew he’d be called upon to step up in a big game, and Troumbly did just that with the opening goal at 11:03 of the first period, popping one in off of a turnover in front of the North Iowa net.
Troumbly was part of the set-up work for the Lumberjacks’ other goal in the first period, sneaking one to Brad Amundson across the front of the crease with just 39 seconds to go in the opening stanza. Amundson beat Dysen Skinner (Billings, Mont./Sioux Falls Jr. Stampede U18) with the one-timer, and Granite City headed into the locker room with a 2-0 lead.
The lead doubled by the halfway mark of the second period – at the 5:12 mark, Jordan Olson waited for his teammates to evacuate the zone before tossing one into the net from in front of the penalty boxes for a 3-0 lead.
The fourth goal came near the end of a Lumberjacks power play following a holding penalty against Joey Petronack (White Bear Lake, Minn./Hill-Murray H.S.). A toss from the right point caught the traffic in front of the net, and after a couple of bounces, Bailey Sommers buried the rebound with 10:02 on the clock to push the lead to 4-0.
With that, the Bulls hit the comeback trail. A pass from behind the net caught Cam Fagerlee (St. Anthony, Minn./North Iowa Bulls) out in front, who threw it on net and watched it trickle past David Mulligan with 1:16 on the second-period clock to bust up the shutout.
Troumbly picked up a high-sticking minor just 2:04 into the final period, and North Iowa immediately took advantage. A blast from the right point ricocheted out front for Jack Giddings (Anoka, Minn./Anoka H.S.), who swatted in the rebound just 11 seconds later to cut the lead to 4-2.
Despite a dozen chances in the final period, that was as far as the comeback progressed, though the Bulls did make a go of it with the empty net in the final minute-and-a-half of the contest and a 5-on-3 opportunity in the final minutes. Each team buried a power play chance, with the Bulls getting six chances on the man-advantage and Granite City getting four.
Skinner took the loss, with 23 saves on 27 Lumberjack shots. Mulligan picked up the win, making 22 saves on 24 North Iowa chances. He remains unbeaten against the Bulls in six all-time decisions, while Skinner lost his first regulation decision since the Bulls’ October road trip to Sauk Rapids.
Sommers, Troumbly and Amundson each finished with a goal and an assist for the Lumberjacks in the victory, climbing to 26-6-2-0 on the season. The Bulls dropped to 24-8-1-0, but did get a couple of helpers from Marco Escobar (Plainfield, Ill./Sioux Falls Jr. Stampede U18) in the contest.
Up next for North Iowa is a visit to Alexandria, as the Bulls face the Blizzard for the final time this regular season. The opening puck drop Saturday night is scheduled for 7:10 p.m., with live coverage on HockeyTV.
North Iowa returns to home ice on Friday and Saturday night, February 1 and 2, as we “Rock the Barn” against the Granite City Lumberjacks, courtesy of Coca-Cola and the Atlantic Bottling Company. For a schedule of upcoming promotions, click here.
North Iowa 0 1 1 – 2
Granite City 2 2 0 – 4
1st Period-1, Granite City, Troumbly 30 11:03. 2, Granite City, Amundson 7 (Troumbly, Sommers), 19:21. Penalties-No Penalties
2nd Period-3, Granite City, Olson 11 5:12. 4, Granite City, Sommers 20 (Amundson, Spetz), 9:58 (PP). 5, North Iowa, Fagerlee 14 (Escobar, Johnson), 18:44. Penalties-Petronack Nio (holding-minor), 8:22; Flattum Gcy (checking from behind-minor), 13:07; Dahlseide Nio (roughing-minor), 13:58.
3rd Period-6, North Iowa, Giddings 10 (Escobar, Nagel), 2:15 (PP). Penalties-Troumbly Gcy (high sticking-minor), 2:04; Stewart Nio (holding-minor), 4:06; Flattum Gcy (roughing-minor), 5:35; Larson Gcy (high sticking-minor), 6:54; Studioso Nio (boarding-minor), 10:17; Pogue Gcy (cross checking-minor), 10:17; Bogach Nio (slashing-minor), 13:34; Schwehr Gcy (slashing-minor), 13:34; Verstegen Nio (cross checking-minor), 13:54; Wagner Nio (roughing-minor, unsportsmanlike conduct-10 minute misconduct), 16:17; Spetz Gcy (roughing-minor, cross checking-minor, unsportsmanlike conduct-10 minute misconduct), 16:17; Olson Gcy (tripping-minor), 17:38.
Shots on Goal-North Iowa 6-7-11-24. Granite City 6-9-12-27.
Power Play Opportunities-North Iowa 1 / 6; Granite City 1 / 4.
Goalies-North Iowa, Skinner 11-3-1-0 (27 shots-23 saves). Granite City, Mulligan 14-2-1-0 (24 shots-22 saves).
Linesmen-Joshua Friedrichs, Colin Briscoe.