MASON CITY, Iowa – Home ice has been good to the North Iowa Bulls and Alexandria Blizzard in their head-to-head series this season. With seven wins in nine meetings during the 2020-21 campaign, road wins have been hard to come by when these teams get together.
Alexandria kept hanging around in their last visit to Mason City for the regular season, scoring go-ahead goals on three separate occasions for a 4-3 win over North Iowa. The victory snapped the Bulls’ 16-game home winning streak in the head-to-head series, including a win over the Blizzard in the 2019 Fraser Cup West Division Finals.
Rebounds were costly, with Alexandria’s Dallas Duckson sliding home a rebound 6:30 into the game off of an initial right-wing shot from Jered Sanborn. Nikolai Rajala doubled the lead at the halfway mark of the period on a toss from the slot that bounced off of Carsen Stokes (Prior Lake, Minn./Minnesota Wilderness) and through to the back of the net.
The Bulls chipped away at the lead during the second period, and cut the lead in half at the 8:13 mark. One night after Nick Mohs-Messerli (Orono, Minn./Orono H.S.) set a second-period pass out front for a Garrett Freeman (Sartell, Minn./Breezy Point North Stars) goal, Freeman returned the favor and Mohs-Messerli pounded home the chance to trim the lead to 2-1.
The lead evaporated at 13:02, when Sean Sullivan’s (Middleton, Wis./North Iowa Bulls) shot from the left wing caught the stick of Carson Jones (Eden Prairie, Minn./Kenai River Brown Bears) in front of the net, and his deflection beat Atticus Kelly to tie the game at 2-2.
A shot from Colin Tushie down the slot was blocked and swept back out to the top of the zone, but Trent Sylester’s second chance beat Stokes on the stick side to take the lead back with 3:15 left in the period. The Bulls got the equalizer again with just 19 seconds left on the second-period clock, thanks to a second-chance goal from Jack Campion (Crystal, Minn./Armstrong-Cooper H.S.) that bounced off of Kelly and into the cage.
North Iowa carried a 28-20 shots-on-goal advantage into the third period, but both teams spent the first half of the period pushing for the go-ahead tally. The next goal was the winner – Nolan Westra’s roller up the wall tipped off of Jase Sofo (Sylvania, Ohio/Amarillo Bulls) and caught Sean Kenny coming through neutral ice. He scored on the rush with a backhand toss to the back post, giving the Blizzard the game’s final lead with 10:25 to go.
Sylvester’s goal gave the Blizzard a 1-for-5 mark on the power play, and Kenny’s marker was the first shorthanded goal allowed by North Iowa this season. The Bulls closed out the game 0-for-3 on the man-advantage.
“Penalties are always costing us. We’ve got to stay out of the box,” said Sullivan, who finished the day with a pair of assists for North Iowa. “We battled back in the second period, but late penalties cost us in the game. We just have to stay disciplined from here on out.”
Sullivan ended the day with a pair of assists for North Iowa, while Kenny and Tushie’s two points apiece highlighted the scoring for the Blizzard. Stokes made 25 saves to fall to 0-2 in his time as a Bull, with both losses coming against the Blizzard. Kelly’s 35 saves put Alexandria on top in Mason City for the first time since January 23, 2015. Jones’s tally was his 15th of the season, putting him in a tie with Sota Isogai for the top mark on the Bulls roster.
The Bulls fell to 21-6-1 on the year, while the Blizzard improved to 11-15-1. North Iowa continues a brief homestand next weekend as the Granite City Lumberjacks head to Mason City for a Friday-Saturday set. Both games get underway at 7:30 p.m. at the Mason City Multipurpose Arena, with live streaming coverage on HockeyTV and free audio streaming on Mixlr.
Updated news and information on the North Iowa Bulls’ 10th Anniversary season are always available at www.northiowabulls.com, and by following the team’s social media platforms on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.
Alexandria 2 1 1 – 4
North Iowa 0 3 0 – 3
1st Period-1, Alexandria, Duckson 9 (Tushie, Sanborn), 6:30. 2, Alexandria, Rajala 5 (Kenny, Strong), 9:57. Penalties-Sullivan Nio (holding-minor), 11:37; Rieland Alx (slashing-minor), 17:02.
2nd Period-3, North Iowa, Mohs-Messerli 4 (Freeman, Sullivan), 8:13. 4, North Iowa, Jones 15 (Sullivan, Newpower), 13:02. 5, Alexandria, Sylvester 1 (Tushie), 16:45 (PP). 6, North Iowa, Campion 10 (Sloth), 19:41. Penalties-McNeil Alx (tripping-minor), 5:57; Cichosz Nio (cross checking-minor), 10:10; Heffron Nio (roughing-minor), 14:49.
3rd Period-7, Alexandria, Kenny 7 (Westra), 9:35 (SH). Penalties-Fox Nio (slashing-minor), 7:17; McNeil Alx (tripping-minor), 8:03; Jones Nio (checking from behind-minor), 13:02.
Shots on Goal-Alexandria 10-10-9-29. North Iowa 10-18-11-39.
Power Play Opportunities-Alexandria 1 / 5; North Iowa 0 / 3.
Goalies-Alexandria, Kelly 1-2-0-0 (39 shots-36 saves). North Iowa, Stokes 0-2-0-0 (29 shots-25 saves).
Linesmen-Grant Crowell, Dylan Krikke.