MASON CITY, Iowa – The North Iowa Bulls’ two games at the North Iowa Ice Arena this weekend were all about honoring the area’s junior hockey lineage, with the North Iowa Huskies of the United States Hockey League and the North American Hockey League’s North Iowa Outlaws coming before the Bulls in the market.
The Bulls did their predecessors proud with their 8-2 win on Friday against the Rochester Grizzlies, and thrilled them again with an 11-1 victory Saturday against the Willmar WarHawks. After a sluggish start on Friday night, the Bulls got started right on time on Saturday, with back-to-back goals just 40 seconds apart in the first period for the 2-0 lead.
Sota Isogai (Nagano, Japan/Okanagan U20) started the scoring after Matt Dahlseide’s (Maplewood, Minn./North Iowa Bulls) move in front of the net left a loose puck for Isogai to put away just 7:52 into the contest. At 8:32, a Lucas Wahlin (Woodbury, Minn./Hill-Murray H.S.) rush up the right wing led to a pass in front of the net, which Austin McNeil (Shakopee, Minn./Shakopee H.S.) was able to poke in with the toe of his stick for the two-goal margin.
The Bulls simply kept rolling from there – Nick Bowlin (Woodbury, Minn./North Iowa Bulls) added on by batting one in with 6:59 left in the period, and Wahlin made it a 4-0 game going to the locker room with a nifty five-hole goal just 64 seconds later.
Jordan Roo (Champlin, Minn./North Iowa Bulls) got the second-period action started even earlier, firing in a wrist shot from just inside the right-wing faceoff circle at the 2:07 mark of the period for a 5-0 lead. The lead went to 6-0 on Campbell Cichosz’s (Albert Lea, Minn./Albert Lea H.S.) shot from the right-wing faceoff circle just over two minutes later.
Back-to-back goals just 1:28 apart capped another active second period, with Jac Triemert (Woodbury, Minn./Woodbury H.S.) jamming one in with 2:02 remaining before the intermission, and on Isogai’s one-timer from the right half with 34 seconds remaining.
After finding themselves down 8-0 going to the third period, the WarHawks would not be kept off the board forever. Johnny Rowell broke the shutout just 3:16 into the third period, tossing in a rebound for his first goal as a WarHawk, after playing a season-and-a-half with the Rochester Grizzlies.
A long rebound off of an initial shot from Carter Wagner (Lino Lakes, Minn./Odessa Jackalopes) allowed Roo to tack on his second goal of the night just five minutes later, pushing the Bulls’ lead back to eight goals. McNeil had the last word, with back-to-back goals at 10:46 and 16:03 of the third period to wrap up the scoring.
“I’ve got to shout out to my linemates,” said McNeil. “They’ve been good in practice all week, and it translated in the games. We’ve got to keep grinding – we got back to playing Bulls hockey, the way we want to play and the way we want these games to end up. We’ve just got to keep going to work.”
In the end, only four North Iowa skaters went without a point Saturday night, and 10 Bulls players finished with more than one point. McNeil’s hat trick headlined the scoring, along with multi-goal games from Roo and Isogai.
“It was a blast getting to know the group of guys here,” said Cichosz, who finished the night with a goal and two assists. “It’s a super-special program, and I’m glad to be a part of it.”
Joseph Daninger (Blaine, Minn./Blaine H.S.) closed the night with 19 saves, while Luke Weberg and Luc Haggitt split time in the net for the WarHawks. Weberg took the loss with 29 saves over the opening two periods, while Haggitt made 13 saves in relief. Daninger moved his record to 4-0 for the season, coming up just one goal shy of his first junior shutout.
Willmar fell to 8-5-0-1 with the loss. The Bulls ran their record to 14-2-1-0 with the win, and wrap up their homestand with an exhibition contest on Wednesday night against the Shattuck-St. Mary’s Sabres, one of the top prep hockey teams in the United States. The midweek contest gets underway at 7 p.m. at the North Iowa Ice Arena in Mason City, with live streaming coverage on HockeyTV, and free audio streaming on Mixlr.
Updated news and information on North Iowa Bulls hockey is always available at www.northiowabulls.com, and by following the team on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube. For advance tickets to Bulls home games, call 641-423-4625 or click here.
Willmar 0 0 1 – 1
North Iowa 4 4 3 – 11
1st Period-1, North Iowa, Isogai 6 (Dahlseide, Smidt), 7:52. 2, North Iowa, McNeil 4 (Wahlin, Kubitz), 8:32. 3, North Iowa, Bowlin 5 (Dahlseide, Isogai), 13:01. 4, North Iowa, Wahlin 12 (Aguilera, McNeil), 14:05. Penalties-Starkey Wil (hooking-minor), 17:12.
2nd Period-5, North Iowa, Roo 8 (Triemert, Stewart), 2:07. 6, North Iowa, Cichosz 3 4:09. 7, North Iowa, Triemert 3 (Enright, Stewart), 17:58. 8, North Iowa, Isogai 7 (Bowlin, Dahlseide), 19:26. Penalties-Santarelli Wil (high sticking-minor), 6:01; Fain Wil (elbowing-minor), 9:47; Sullivan Nio (tripping-minor), 10:07; Hoffman Wil (boarding-minor), 12:50.
3rd Period-9, Willmar, Rowell 1 (Brownell, Holt), 3:16. 10, North Iowa, Roo 9 (Wagner, Sivets), 8:17. 11, North Iowa, McNeil 5 (Aguilera, Cichosz), 10:47. 12, North Iowa, McNeil 6 (Wahlin, Cichosz), 16:03. Penalties-Sylvester Wil (holding-minor), 12:31.
Shots on Goal-Willmar 6-9-5-20. North Iowa 15-22-16-53.
Power Play Opportunities-Willmar 0 / 1; North Iowa 0 / 5.
Goalies-Willmar, Weberg 3-2-0-0 (37 shots-29 saves); Haggitt 2-3-0-1 (16 shots-13 saves). North Iowa, Daninger 4-0-0-0 (20 shots-19 saves).
Linesmen-Travis Neubeck, CJ Marshall.