Post Game Report 2-4
MASON CITY, Iowa – Three seemed to be the magic number for the Granite City Lumberjacks on Saturday night at the North Iowa Ice Arena – in the third period, Andrej Jamnicky scored three goals to give the ‘Jacks a three-goal win for their third win in the season series against the North Iowa Bulls, and their third straight. A 5-2 victory was Granite City’s fourth in a row, while the Bulls dropped their third straight home game and third out of four overall.
New Bulls forward Braxton Collins (Eau Claire, Wis./Coulee Region Chill) fired a shot across the bow just 22 seconds into the game, though, with a fadeaway wrist shot from mid-slot that put Granite City behind right out of the gate. The lead stayed in North Iowa hands for about 15 minutes – Ryan Smith ripped one past Drew Scites (Plymouth, Minn./Prior Lake H.S.) at the 15:17 mark of the period that sent the game to the intermission tied at one.
Casey Esselman’s power-play tally at 13:23 of the second period put Granite City ahead, but the Bulls wouldn’t let that lead stand for long. Collins was leveled after a pass from Marshall Tschida (Woodbury, Minn./Woodbury H.S.) to stretch the play into the neutral zone with under two minutes to go in the game, but he was able to work the puck ahead to Connor Clemons (Savage, Minn./Prior Lake H.S.) up the left-wing wall. Clemons rushed the net and pounded one past Mac Berglove with 1:36 on the second-period clock to tie the game again.
The third period belonged to the Lumberjacks’ Slovenian native, though – less than a minute into the third period, William Sprink hit Jamnicky for a pass into the neutral zone as Will Mix pulled alongside after exiting the penalty box following his hooking infraction. Mix never touched the puck, though, as Jamnicky opted for the keeper and slid one in underneath Scites to take the final lead of the game.
The lead went to 4-2 on Jamnicky’s top-shelf tally at 8:14 of the final period, but it was a penalty that allowed him to finish off the hat trick and the Bulls’ chances of saving the weekend split. William Sprink gained the puck just as Jamnicky’s cross-checking minor came to its end, and cleared it out of the Granite City zone to find Jamnicky streaking back into the play – a breakaway chance beat Scites five-hole again, to push the lead to 5-2 and send the Granite City bench into a frenzy. Another frenzy came at the final buzzer, when the Lumberjacks rushed Berglove at the close of their February weekend set.
Weekends like this one are a rarity in Mason City – the 1,104 fans in attendance saw the Bulls outshot by a 36-18 margin, with Scites stopping 31 of the 36 shots against him and dropping to 1-3-0 since debuting with North Iowa four weeks ago. Berglove saw 18 shots and blocked 16 of them, picking up his 17th win of the season. The 18 shots were the second-lowest total for the Bulls in team history, surpassed only by a 16-shot performance at Pittsburgh in Dec. 2011. Todd Sanden’s team also lost a third straight home game for the first time in team history.
They’ll have a chance to snap that streak with a likely playoff-weekend preview coming up on Friday and Saturday. “The Barn” will host the Bulls’ Friday night home game against the Rochester Ice Hawks, following the team’s “Give Blood, Play Hockey” blood drive on Tuesday and Wednesday. That game is set for a 7:30 p.m. start time in Mason City, with Saturday’s road game at Rochester beginning at 7:05. All Bulls games, home and away, are streamed live at HockeyTV – Bulls home games and select road games are also audio-streamed on Mixlr.