MASON CITY, Iowa – The North Iowa Bulls scored first on Saturday night, but the Granite City Lumberjacks had a little more firepower, though, taking the lead for good in the final minute of the first period and topping the Bulls for a 5-2 win inside the North Iowa Ice Arena.
The victory for Granite City was its sixth straight in the head-to-head series, and the 10th in the last 12 against North Iowa. The Bulls’ losing skid hit four games for the first time since the opening month of the 2011-12 season. The Lumberjacks’ lead reached nine points over Rochester and 10 over the Bulls as North Iowa slipped back to third place in the NA3HL West Division, with two games in hand on the Grizzlies.
Evan Junker (Elk River, Minn./Elk River H.S.) got the initial lead for the Bulls at the 11:07 mark of the first period, driving the puck up the left wing and snapping a shot past David Mulligan from the faceoff circle. Then the Lumberjacks’ offense took hold – Ryan Pogue beat Dysen Skinner (Billings, Mont./Sioux Falls Jr. Stampede 18U) from the right half just 2:14 after North Iowa took the lead, tying the game at 1-1.
The lead went to Granite City for good with 55 seconds left in the first period, when a Grant Troumbly try bounced out front to Tom Nagle, who put away the rebound to send the Lumberjacks into the intermission with a one-goal lead. The three-goal run ended at the 1:02 mark of the second period, when Matt Moran ripped one over the shoulder of Skinner for a 3-1 lead.
However, the Bulls got the lead down to one for most of the second period, fresh off of a checking-from-behind call against Zach Wilson. North Iowa scored twice on the power play on Friday night, and did so again at 2:03 with Jimmy McDermott (Dubuque, Iowa/Wisconsin Whalers) knocking in a rebound just seven seconds into the man-advantage.
With the game in the balance going to the third, Granite City stepped up to take command – Blake Spetz played the puck to Moran at the bottom of the right-wing faceoff circle, and Moran’s tough-angle try beat Skinner just 1:51 out of the break for a 4-2 lead.
A boarding minor to Junker in the final three minutes gave the Lumberjacks the opening they needed to notch a power play goal of their own. Grant Troumbly and Zach DeBoom teamed up to feed Nagle on a dot-to-dot pass to Skinner’s left, and the one-timer from Nagle found the back of the net to cap the scoring with just 2:02 to go.
The win moves the Lumberjacks to 29-6-2-0 on the season, while the Bulls fell to 24-10-2-0. Skinner ended the night with 30 saves, taking the loss and dropping to 11-4-2-0 on the year. The win went to Mulligan, who climbed to 16-3-2-0 for the season and moved to a perfect 8-0 all-time against the Bulls thanks to 31 saves.
The Bulls head on the road to Willmar for a two-day weekend against the WarHawks on Friday and Saturday night next week, followed by a Sunday night visit to New Ulm. Both games at Willmar are scheduled for a 7:30 p.m. puck drop, while Sunday’s game gets started at 7:10. Live streaming coverage of all three games is available on HockeyTV. Coverage of Sunday night’s game at the Steel will also be available on Mixlr.
North Iowa returns home to take on defending Fraser Cup runner-up St. Louis on Friday and Saturday, February 15 and 16 for “Grateful Weekend.” The Bulls will wear special “Grateful Dead”-inspired jerseys, to be auctioned off following Saturday night’s game. Proceeds will benefit the Humane Society of North Iowa. Saturday’s game is also “Scout Night” at the “Barn.” For advance tickets to those games or any future Bulls home game, click here.
Granite City 2 1 2 – 5
North Iowa 1 1 0 – 2
1st Period-1, North Iowa, Junker 5 11:07. 2, Granite City, Pogue 15 (Troumbly, Sommers), 13:21. 3, Granite City, Nagle 5 (Troumbly, Schwehr), 19:06. Penalties-Troumbly Gcy (tripping-minor), 0:38; Petronack Nio (cross checking-minor), 8:09; Fagerlee Nio (checking from behind-minor), 17:01.
2nd Period-4, Granite City, Moran 6 (Larson, Salz), 1:02. 5, North Iowa, McDermott 11 (Studioso, Blackowiak), 2:03 (PP). Penalties-Wilson Gcy (checking from behind-minor), 1:56; Moran Gcy (roughing-minor), 4:56; Giddings Nio (roughing-minor), 4:56; Brandt Nio (high sticking-minor), 7:36; Spetz Gcy (slashing-minor), 9:43; Moran Gcy (high sticking-minor), 12:24; Flattum Gcy (cross checking-minor), 12:43; Sundquist Gcy (fighting-major, fighting-ej), 15:24; Giddings Nio (fighting-major, fighting-ej), 15:24; Amundson Gcy (roughing-minor), 17:06; Carlson Nio (roughing-minor), 17:06; Junker Nio (boarding-minor), 17:06.
3rd Period-6, Granite City, Moran 7 (Spetz, Dummer), 1:51. 7, Granite City, Nagle 6 (Troumbly, DeBoom), 17:58 (PP). Penalties-Troumbly Gcy (tripping-minor), 4:28; Petronack Nio (cross checking-minor), 7:51; Verstegen Nio (high sticking-minor), 17:23; Studioso Nio (elbowing-minor), 19:23.
Shots on Goal-Granite City 10-14-11-35. North Iowa 10-15-8-33.
Power Play Opportunities-Granite City 1 / 7; North Iowa 1 / 6.
Goalies-Granite City, Mulligan 16-2-1-0 (33 shots-31 saves). North Iowa, Skinner 11-4-2-0 (35 shots-30 saves).
Linesmen-Joshua Friedrichs, Troy Dubay.