ABERDEEN, S.D. – When the North Iowa Bulls scored their final goal with 3:13 left Friday night, no hats landed on the ice to celebrate Byron Hartley’s career night for the visitors.
That’s not to say North Iowa scratch Willy Johnson (Edina, Minn./Edina H.S.) wasn’t tempted.
After a couple of pump fakes, Johnson’s hat left the arena with him, and Byron Hartley (Philadelphia, Pa./left the Odde Ice Center with his first junior hat trick as the Bulls extended their winning streak to four games with a 6-2 victory. It was only North Iowa’s second regular-season win on the Aberdeen Wings’ home ice, rocketing out to a four-goal lead in the second period on the way to the victory.
It was a start to remember for the Bulls, posting 12 of the game’s first 15 shots on goal. Luke Baker (Dana Point, Calif./had a start he won’t forget, rushing the puck down the left wing before beating Aberdeen goaltender Cole Moore on his glove side 4:09 into the game. That goal gave the Bulls the 1-0 lead and gave Baker his first career goal.
The lead didn’t last – at the 5:49 mark of the period, Nikolai Tishkevitch caught a rinkwide pass from Landon Parker and skated it in on the right wing, sneaking one past Mitch Day (St. Louis, Mo./St. Louis Blues AAA) to tie the game at 1-1.
North Iowa grabbed the lead back heading to the locker room – with 6:46 left in the period, a pass to escape the Wings’ zone was left shy of the blue line when Eli Miller (Dundas, Minn./Lakeville South H.S.) picked it up and fed it to Cayden Casey (Elk River, Minn./Andover H.S.). His shot beat Moore to get the lead back for the Bulls.
A late first-period penalty call against Kyle Contessa allowed the Bulls to carry a power play into the second period, and Max Scott (San Jose, Calif./North Iowa Bulls) tapped in a pass from Justin Mexico (Madison Heights, Mich./North Iowa Bulls) just 37 seconds out of the intermission to double the Bulls’ lead. Hartley extended it to 5-1 with back-to-back goals – one on a forehand chance in front with 9:32 left in the period and another with 1:36 remaining, on a blue-line shot from Paavo Hiltunen (Kerava, Finland/HIFK U20) that caught Hartley’s stick and bounded into the net.
Aberdeen got one goal back with 8:56 remaining, when Patrick O’Connell charged down the right wing and pushed the puck back to his backhand side before pushing it past Day to make it 5-2. Hartley’s final goal came on a pass from Mexico off the wall, finding him on the edge of the slot for one last snap to the back of the net.
Mexico finished the night with three assists while Hartley added an assist to his three-goal haul, both career highs. Scott became only the fifth Bulls player, and first in the NAHL era, to post a power play goal in three straight games.
“We’re getting everything to the net, getting great looks and great chances,” said Hartley. “We had a backdoor tap-in for the first time in, I don’t know how long, so it felt really good to get that.”
Day had another memorable night in net, stopping 38 of the 40 shots he saw and moving to 4-2 on the year. Moore made 26 stops on the 31 North Iowa shots in the game. The Bulls’ power play was exceptional again, going 2-for-4 on the night while the penalty kill wiped away all three Aberdeen chances.
North Iowa moved to 7-2 and extended its lead in the North American Hockey League’s Central Division, while Aberdeen dropped back below .500 at 4-5 for the year. The teams collide again on Saturday night, with the opening puck drop at the Odde Ice Center slated for 7:15 p.m. Live streaming coverage is available on HockeyTV Presented by Dakota Fix Shelter Insurance and NorthIowaBulls.com.
To purchase advance tickets to any upcoming North Iowa home game, call 641-423-4625 or click here. Updated news and information on Bulls hockey are always available at www.northiowabulls.com, and by following the team’s social media platforms on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.
North Iowa 2 3 1 – 6
Aberdeen 1 0 1 – 2
1st Period-1, North Iowa, Baker 1 (Johnson), 4:02. 2, Aberdeen, Tishkevich 5 (Parker, Carlstrom), 5:49. 3, North Iowa, Casey 4 (Miller), 13:14. Penalties-Thiessen Nio (kneeing-minor), 13:27; Contessa Abd (slashing-minor), 14:30; Mesic Nio (slashing-minor), 14:59; Lindsay Abd (unsportsmanlike conduct-minor (embellishment/diving)), 14:59; Contessa Abd (holding-minor), 19:45.
2nd Period-4, North Iowa, Scott 4 (Mexico, Hartley), 0:37 (PP). 5, North Iowa, Hartley 5 (Mexico, Peterson), 10:28. 6, North Iowa, Hartley 6 (Hiltunen, Dombrowsky), 18:24 (PP). Penalties-Seaverson Nio (unsportsmanlike conduct-minor, accumulation unsportsmanlike conduct – 10 minute), 15:21; Barker Abd (fighting-major, fighting(instigator, fighting (instigator)-gm)-minor, fighting (instigator)-gm), 15:21.
3rd Period-7, Aberdeen, O’Connell 1 (Dubois, Anderson), 11:04 (SH). 8, North Iowa, Hartley 7 (Mexico), 16:47. Penalties-Winklebleck Nio (high sticking-minor), 0:32; Dadie Nio (roughing-minor), 7:41; Walsh Abd (checking from behind-minor), 9:59.
Shots on Goal-North Iowa 14-10-7-31. Aberdeen 11-9-20-40.
Power Play Opportunities-North Iowa 2 / 4; Aberdeen 0 / 3.
Goalies-North Iowa, Day 4-2-0-0 (40 shots-38 saves). Aberdeen, Moore 3-3-0-0 (31 shots-25 saves).
Linesmen-Wyatt Corrigan, Ryan Baker.