PEORIA, Ill. – North Iowa Bulls head coach Todd Sanden wasn’t overly concerned with the final score of the team’s opener at the Peoria Mustangs on Saturday. What mattered most was how the team competed and how well his team took the fight to its hosts.
The Mustangs took the game to their visitors immediately, scoring three goals in the opening nine-and-a-half minutes, on the way to a 6-0 victory at the Owens Center.
A two-man rush made it a 1-0 score less than two minutes into the contest as Austin Keil raced it into the Bulls zone and fed it to Jack Radley for a successful one-timer to beat Dysen Skinner (Billings, Mont./Sioux Falls Jr. Stampede).
Radley set up the next goal less than two minutes later, sending one low across the slot for Brandon Hay’s one-timer. That goal counted as the game’s lone power-play tally as well, after the Bulls were called for having too many men on the ice, with the puck in front of the North Iowa bench during a line change.
At 9:20 of the period, Peoria struck again, on a turnover right next to the goal. Tristan Trudel would grab the puck, step back above the goal line and nudge one in under Skinner in one motion.
The first period ended with no further scoring, but the Mustangs would return to the board 13:15 into the second, during a North Iowa line change. A stretch pass up the right wing fed Bret Bauer, who led the puck to Jared Wisely for a successful one-timer on a 3-on-0 break.
In the third, Peoria put a couple more on the board, first on a knuckling throw from Hay just inside the Bulls blue line at 7:32 of the period. Trudel earned a second goal as well, sniping one just inside the top corner of the goal, over Skinner’s left shoulder with under six minutes to play.
Skinner took the loss in his NA3HL debut, making 21 saves on 27 shots. The Bulls could not solve Trevor Smith, who made saves on all 26 shots he faced. North Iowa opens its season with a loss, only its fifth shutout defeat in franchise history. After two losses to the Milwaukee Power, the Mustangs moved their record to 1-2-0-0 for the young season.
The Bulls will square off with Peoria again Sunday afternoon at 1:15 p.m. at the Owens Center in Peoria. Live streaming coverage is available on HockeyTV, with free audio streaming on Mixlr.
North Iowa 0 0 0 – 0
Peoria 3 1 2 – 6
1st Period-1, Peoria, Radley 1 (Keil), 1:52. 2, Peoria, Hay 2 (Radley, Trudel), 3:46 (PP). 3, Peoria, Trudel 1 9:25. Penalties-Hale Nio (bench-minor), 3:01; Finley Peo (high sticking-minor), 7:08.
2nd Period-4, Peoria, Wisely 1 (Bauer, Zowin), 13:15. Penalties-Junker Nio (high sticking-minor), 0:42; Wisely Peo (holding-minor), 13:31.
3rd Period-5, Peoria, Hay 3 (Bauer), 7:32. 6, Peoria, Trudel 2 (Wisely, Finley), 14:07. Penalties-Eddington Peo (tripping-minor), 3:37.
Shots on Goal-North Iowa 8-7-11-26. Peoria 11-13-3-27.
Power Play Opportunities-North Iowa 0 / 3; Peoria 1 / 2.
Goalies-North Iowa, Skinner 0-1-0-0 (27 shots-21 saves). Peoria, Smith 1-2-0-0 (26 shots-26 saves).
Linesmen-Chris Lubera, Blake Kochner.