MASON CITY, Iowa – As a high school senior, Evan Junker (Elk River, Minn./Elk River H.S.) scored exactly five goals in his final prep season. Junker made a splash in landing on the Bulls scoresheet for the first time Saturday, sending in two power-play markers in a 9-3 runaway for the North Iowa Bulls over the Breezy Point North Stars.
His first goal of the night gave the Bulls a 2-0 lead at the 7:18 mark of the opening period, but Matt Rozman (Edina, Minn./Edina Jr. Gold) beat his teammate to the red-light district, putting away a rebound on a shot from Konnor Carlson (Inver Grove Heights, Minn./Simley H.S.) at the 3:02 mark of the game.
Junker doubled the lead on a long shot through traffic from the right point, barely a minute after a tripping penalty to Gunner Bourassa gave North Iowa its first power-play chance of the night. Breezy Point got its answer less than a minute later, with Cooper Hoheisel scoring on a rebound of his own, following an initial chance from Nick Eddens.
The final 2:02 of the first period was a sprint to the scoreboard for the Bulls, starting with Peter Verstegen‘s (Oshkosh, Wis./North Iowa Bulls) backdoor tap-in. North Iowa ramped the lead to 4-1 with 17 seconds remaining on the clock, on Brendan Studioso‘s (Mukilteo, Wash./North Iowa Bulls) rebound tally. This time, the initial shot from Jarod Blackowiak (Eden Prairie, Minn./North Iowa Bulls) was the setup play.
North Iowa out-shot their guests 15-10 in the first period, and chased starting North Stars netminder Max Eilefson shortly into the second. Eilefson reacted to a brief contact at the front of the net just 20 seconds into the second period, but did not receive a call from referee Riley Yerkovich, allowing Harrison Stewart (Rockford, Ill./Milwaukee Admirals U18) to sling one into the net for a 5-1 lead.
Just 91 seconds into the second period, Eilefson was done, and North Iowa led 6-1 – Stewart’s long pass through neutral ice caught Cam Fagerlee (St. Anthony, Minn./North Iowa Bulls) at the Breezy Point blue line, and Fagerlee’s triple-deke undressed Eilefson for the five-goal advantage.
That brought Dan Fielding into the contest, and he would give the North Stars a chance to cut into the lead. Following a hooking penalty to Stewart, Lukas Brockman did just that at 8:08 of the second period, following a deflection on Bourassa’s pass from the right wing. That deflection ended up right underneath Brockman at mid-slot, who turned and delivered the puck over the shoulder of Evan Babekuhl (Long Lake, Minn./Orono H.S.) to cut the lead to 6-2.
Breezy Point headed to the final period down four, and got it down to three in short order. Hoheisel scored again, tipping one underneath Babekuhl on a long left-wing toss to the net just 1:28 out of the break.
Up 6-3 at the halfway mark of the final period, North Iowa punched the gas pedal and peeled out to its seventh win of the year. Within 13 seconds, Joey Petronack (White Bear Lake, Minn./Hill-Murray H.S.) and Studioso had delivered back-to-back goals at 10:05 and 10:18 to push the lead to 8-3.
Junker had decided he wasn’t done either – a slashing infraction to Bourassa set up the Bulls special-teams unit again with 5:01 to go, and with 4:30 left on the clock, the Bulls blueliner let another one rip from just inside the blue line to beat the traffic and make it a 9-3 contest.
Todd Sanden’s team finished the night with 40 shots on goal and a six-goal win, ahead of next week’s rematch with the North Stars. It’s the final time the teams will meet on North Iowa’s home ice this year, and by Thanksgiving, all six meetings between the teams will have been taken care of.
“Talking to coach (D.J.) Vold after the game, they’re not excited to be coming back here again next Saturday night,” said Sanden. “We’re going to work hard this week, and we’re trying to work on the process here and create some chemistry on our forward lines.”
Studioso had a career weekend, adding two goals to his goal and two helpers on Friday. The biggest night, however, may have belonged to Jimmy McDermott (Dubuque, Iowa/Wisconsin Whalers), who dished out four assists.
“Coming off of last weekend (at Granite City, Studioso) injected some fun into his week, and I thought he was awesome this weekend, not just in production but in leadership as well,” said Sanden. “Jimmy is a big power forward, and he played that role tonight. He certainly created some space and shared the puck enough to get four assists.”
Babekuhl picked up his second win of the season, making 25 saves on 28 North Stars shots. Eilefson was saddled with the loss, allowing six goals on just 18 shots before being pulled early in the second period and falling to 1-5-1-0 for the year.
Stewart ended the night with three points of his own against the North Stars, including a goal. Hoheisel ran his scoring mark to four goals for the season, with three of them coming against North Iowa. His first goal against the Bulls was scored as a member of the New Ulm Steel last month.
Next Saturday’s game gets started at 7:30 p.m., with live streaming coverage on HockeyTV and free audio-streaming on Mixlr. The Bulls will celebrate their Halloween Spooktacular, with Boos and Dollar Brews, a pregame trunk-or-treat for the younger fans, and more. For advance tickets to next Saturday’s game or any North Iowa Bulls home contest, click here.
Breezy Point 1 1 1 – 3
North Iowa 4 2 3 – 9
1st Period-1, North Iowa, Rozman 3 (Carlson, Taraszewski), 3:02. 2, North Iowa, Junker 1 (Verstegen), 7:18 (PP). 3, Breezy Point, Hoheisel 3 (Eddens), 8:12. 4, North Iowa, Verstegen 7 (Stewart, Bowlin), 17:58. 5, North Iowa, Studioso 5 (McDermott, Blackowiak), 19:43. Penalties-Bourassa Bzp (tripping-minor), 6:15; Hormann Bzp (holding-minor), 10:46; Tubbs Bzp (tripping-minor), 14:20; Hormann Bzp (unsportsmanlike conduct-minor), 19:56; Studioso Nio (head contact-minor), 19:56.
2nd Period-6, North Iowa, Stewart 2 (McDermott, Blackowiak), 0:20. 7, North Iowa, Fagerlee 8 (Stewart, Giddings), 1:31. 8, Breezy Point, Brockman 2 (Bourassa), 8:08 (PP). Penalties-Hormann Bzp (roughing-minor), 6:14; McDermott Nio (high sticking-minor), 6:14; Stewart Nio (hooking-minor), 7:27; Evers Bzp (slashing-minor), 10:21; Carlson Nio (cross checking-minor), 19:11.
3rd Period-9, Breezy Point, Hoheisel 4 (Morin, Bourassa), 1:28. 10, North Iowa, Petronack 2 (Bowlin, McDermott), 10:05. 11, North Iowa, Studioso 6 (Blackowiak, McDermott), 10:18. 12, North Iowa, Junker 2 (Hale, Bogach), 15:30 (PP). Penalties-Studioso Nio (cross checking-minor), 5:21; Bourassa Bzp (slashing-minor), 14:59.
Shots on Goal-Breezy Point 10-7-11-28. North Iowa 16-12-12-40.
Power Play Opportunities-Breezy Point 1 / 3; North Iowa 2 / 5.
Goalies-Breezy Point, Eilefson 1-5-1-0 (18 shots-12 saves); Fielding 1-0-0-0 (22 shots-19 saves). North Iowa, Babekuhl 2-3-0-0 (28 shots-25 saves).
Linesmen-Eric Arrigo, Matt Bleck.