Janesville Jets End Bulls’ Historic Start, Win 3-1 Saturday


BLAINE, Minn. – It was guaranteed to happen sometime.

After a historic start to the season that saw the North Iowa Bulls pick up three straight shutout wins at the North American Hockey League Showcase, Saturday’s final day at the Super Rink saw the Bulls give up their first goals of the year and take their first defeat in a 3-1 loss to the Janesville Jets. Thanks to Saturday’s win, the Jets came out of the Showcase with a perfect 4-0 mark for only the second team in their franchise’s history.

For much of the contest, it was simply a case of which team would blink first, with Janesville posting 26 shots to the Bulls’ 24 over the first 40 minutes. In a game that often felt more like a heavyweight prizefight, the Jets struck the first blow 2:05 into the game, when Joseph Kramer took the puck at the red line, drove it into the Bulls’ zone and found Chris Pelosi out front for a wrist shot that beat goaltender Mitchell Day (St. Louis, Mo./St. Louis Blues AAA) low along the ice.

That same lead became a 2-0 margin thanks to the same line at the 5:50 mark of the period, when Pelosi cleaned up the rebound from Matthew Hale’s shot on the net and banged in the second chance.

North Iowa got the response it needed with 3:51 remaining, when Peter Sterling gave up a rebound to his left on a shot from Joe Sweeney (San Jose, Calif./North Iowa Bulls), and a backhand swat from Jake LaRusso (Colts Neck, N.J./North Iowa Bulls) found its way past to trim the lead to 2-1. Gabriel Lundberg’s empty-net tally with 1:08 remaining sewed up the win and the perfect finish for the Jets.

“They’re fast, they’re physical, their [defensemen] are big and they move pucks,” said LaRusso, who earned his first point of the season in Saturday’s game. “It was a good game – they played really well. Their goalie made a couple of outstanding saves, so hats off to him. It was a pretty even game, we just came out unlucky this time.”

The win-loss record may no longer be unblemished for the Bulls, but the penalty-killing mark remains intact heading into divisional play – Janesville came up short on all three of its power plays in the game, allowing North Iowa to erase all 12 power plays against it at the Showcase. The Bulls’ power play unit enjoyed a strong showing, with a 3-for-11 finish in Blaine, going 0-for-2 on Saturday..

Day was still impressive in net despite taking the loss, saving 33 of the 35 shots against him. Sterling made saves on 33 of 34 North Iowa chances to earn his second win in as many days.

The Bulls’ run of 222:05 without a goal to start the season ranks as its longest sustained run of success since picking up four shutouts in a row during the 2019-20 NA3HL season, with the first two coming at the NA3HL Showcase in Blaine. The other two shutouts in a stretch that eventually reached nearly 334 minutes in length took place on home ice January 3 and 4, in the first two games ever held at the Mason City Arena.

North Iowa starts its divisional slate on the road, with a pair of games Friday and Saturday night at the Maysa Arena in Minot, North Dakota against the Minotauros. The opening puck drop for both games is scheduled for 7:35 p.m., with live coverage on HockeyTV Presented by Dakota Fix Shelter Insurance and NorthIowaBulls.com.

Advance tickets for all North Iowa home games are available online now at northiowabulls.isportstix.com. 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.


Janesville 0 0 3 – 3
North Iowa 0 0 1 – 1

1st Period- No Scoring.Penalties-Hiltunen Nio (tripping-minor), 2:47; Williams Jne (tripping-minor), 5:29.

2nd Period- No Scoring.Penalties-brown Jne (slashing-minor), 3:24; Goduco Nio (slashing-minor), 15:48; Hartley Nio (delay of game-minor), 19:44.

3rd Period-1, Janesville, pelosi 1 (Kramer, Hale), 2:05. 2, Janesville, pelosi 2 (Kramer, Hale), 5:50. 3, North Iowa, La Russo 1 (Sweeney), 16:09. 4, Janesville, Lundberg 1   18:52. Penalties-No Penalties

Shots on Goal-Janesville 8-18-10-36. North Iowa 10-14-10-34.
Power Play Opportunities-Janesville 0 / 0; North Iowa 0 / 0.
Goalies-Janesville, Sterling 2-0-0-0 (34 shots-33 saves). North Iowa, Day 1-1-0-0 (36 shots-33 saves).
Referees-Cameron Giancarlo, Jake Jackson.
Linesmen-Colton Edling, Odin Nelson.