BLAINE, Minn. – The North Iowa Bulls, like the rest of the North American Tier 3 Hockey League, are known for being “a step above the rest.” For their age group, Bulls defensemen Hank Nagel and Evan Junker are a step above as well, showcasing their skills to college and North American Hockey League scouts at this past week’s NAHL 18-and-Under Top Prospects Tournament, held in conjunction with the NAHL’s Robertson Cup championship tournament.
The two helped the NA3HL make quite a name for itself, finishing in second place among a 10-team field that included top players from Minnesota, Michigan, Europe and other regions. Leagues such as the North American Prospects Hockey League and the Atlantic Youth Hockey League also fielded teams in this year’s tournament.
The NA3HL defeated Team East by a 5-4 score on May 10, before holding off the NAPHL’s best from the eastern United States in a 5-3 contest the following day. Day 2 of the NAHL 18U TPT brought a pair of games for the NA3HL stars, with the Michigan Select team falling to the NA3HL in the final preliminary contest by a 3-1 final.
The championship game on Sunday saw the Tier 1 Elite Hockey League’s western stars knock off the NA3HL’s best by a 4-1 count.
After scoring three goals this past regular season for the Bulls, Nagel notched a goal and an assist in his four appearances for the NA3HL group. His goal against the NAPHL’s eastern squad came late in the second period and was the game-winner in that contest.
Junker tallied one assist in the second contest of the weekend against the Michigan Selects. His helper on Kolye Bankauskas’s first-period goal put the NA3HL on top for good in that game.
A native of Elk River, Minnesota, Junker signed an NAHL tender with the Fairbanks Ice Dogs over the Christmas break. Nagel has not made a college or NAHL commitment for the 2019-20 season.
This is the second year that the NAHL has held an 18-and-under Top Prospects Tournament at its Robertson Cup championship tournament, but the first time that a team of NA3HL standouts has taken part.