PEORIA, Ill. – With many more wins like Saturday’s, the North Iowa Bulls may well become known as “Cardiac Kids” as the 2019-20 season unfolds. That’s all the better as far as the group is concerned, as long as the wins keep coming. Ryan Hempel (Katy, Texas/Elliot Lake Wildcats) hammered home the game-winner with 5:05 remaining in the contest as the Bulls left the Owens Center with a 4-3 win over the Peoria Mustangs Saturday night, moving their winning streak against the Mustangs to four games.
Technically, the victory was another one in come-from-behind fashion, but the only comeback needed was early in the game. Tristan Trudel put away the opening goal of the night just after the halfway mark of the first period, after a point shot from Atticus Helfer got loose and pinballed around in front of the net. Lucas Wahlin (Woodbury, Minn./Hill-Murray H.S.) evened the score on the penalty kill with just 5:12 showing on the first-period clock, after stripping a Peoria player of the puck just short of the Mustangs’ blue line.
North Iowa was able to get its special teams deeper into the action in the second period, taking a power play out of the first intermission. Connor Bennett’s interference minor with 51 seconds left gave the Bulls the extra man out of the locker room, and the first rush up the ice was a successful one. Cam Fagerlee (St. Anthony, Minn./North Iowa Bulls) gave the visitors their second power play goal of the season just 17 seconds out of the break.
Jared Wisely tied the game on a backdoor tally at the 9:50 mark of the period, but the tie game lasted only 81 seconds before Jordan Roo (Champlin, Minn./North Iowa Bulls) stuffed one into the net to take the lead back.
That lead vanished going to the third period, though, with Michael Mizerak lighting the lamp at the 16:51 mark of the stanza on a redirect from a point shot. After almost 20 minutes of scoreless action and a 5-on-3 chance for North Iowa, Hempel earned his hero badge for the night by sniping one from the right wing over the shoulder of Mustangs goaltender Jaden Gardner.
“[Sean Sullivan] (Middleton, Wis./Madison Capitols 18U) got the puck out of our corner and made a move around one guy coming into the zone,” said Hempel. “I was screaming for the puck. He gave it to me and a defenseman went down trying to block it. I did a little curl and drag around him and I was just filled with emotion at that point.”
Eli Bowers (Whitefish Bay, Wis./Madison Capitols 18U) made his North Iowa debut in goal on Saturday night and made it count, keeping 20 of Peoria’s 23 shots out of the Bulls’ net. The win gives North Iowa its first 3-0 start since opening the 2017-18 season on a six-game winning streak.
The Bulls’ special teams came up big again, finishing 1-for-5 on the man-advantage and adding their second shorthanded goal of the year. The Mustangs were 0-for-3 with the extra man on the ice.
“The boys were going crazy after winning,” said Hempel. “All we had to do was play hard and finish the game out.”
Sunday’s battle between the Bulls and Mustangs gets underway at 1:15 p.m. at the Owens Center in Peoria. Live streaming coverage of all North Iowa Bulls games, home and away, is available on HockeyTV. Free audio streaming of home games and select road games, including Sunday’s is available on Mixlr.
Tickets are available now for the Bulls’ final home opener in the North Iowa Ice Arena, October 4 against the Willmar WarHawks. The last home-opening bash at the “Barn” will feature a pregame tailgate party, a postgame skate, free koozies with all paid adult admissions and more. The latest news and information on Bulls hockey is always available by calling 641-423-4625, visiting www.northiowabulls.com, or following the Bulls on social media. To purchase advance tickets to any Bulls home game this season, click here.
North Iowa 1 2 1 – 4
Peoria 1 2 0 – 3
1st Period-1, Peoria, Trudel 2 (Keil, Helfer), 10:24. 2, North Iowa, Wahlin 3 (Roo, Simon), 15:12 (SH). Penalties-Cichosz Nio (high sticking-double minor), 11:31; Begley Peo (cross checking-minor), 15:27; Bennett Peo (interference-minor), 19:09.
2nd Period-3, North Iowa, Fagerlee 2 (Dahlseide, Kubitz), 0:17 (PP). 4, Peoria, Wisely 2 (Eddington), 9:50. 5, North Iowa, Roo 2 (Wahlin, McNeil), 11:11. 6, Peoria, Mizerak 1 (Helfer, Eddington), 16:51. Penalties-Bowlin Nio (roughing-minor), 3:25; Wisely Peo (roughing-minor), 3:25; Fagerlee Nio (slashing-minor), 11:26; Helfer Peo (high sticking-double minor, abuse of official-10 misc), 18:32.
3rd Period-7, North Iowa, Hempel 2 (Sullivan), 14:55. Penalties-Hichborn Peo (slashing-minor), 0:41.
Shots on Goal-North Iowa 9-7-10-26. Peoria 8-9-6-23.
Power Play Opportunities-North Iowa 1 / 0; Peoria 0 / 0.
Goalies-North Iowa, Bowers 1-0-0-0 (23 shots-20 saves). Peoria, Gardner 1-1-0-0 (26 shots-22 saves).
Linesmen-Matt Bleck, Richard Faron.