MASON CITY, Iowa – North Iowa forward Kyle Heffron (Rosemount, Minn./Totino-Grace H.S.) had never stepped on the ice as a Bull prior to Friday night, but thanks to his play with the Minnesota Blizzard program during his high-school days, he’s quite familiar with linemates Lucas Jorgenson (Orono, Minn./Holy Family H.S.) and Carson Jones (Eden Prairie, Minn./Kenai River Brown Bears).
The newcomers, Heffron and Jones, played the game like it was old hat on Friday, with Heffron notching a goal and three assists and Jones adding a goal of his own in a 6-3 victory over the Willmar WarHawks. The victory gives the Bulls a clean sweep of a four-games-in-five stretch against Willmar, interrupted only by a loss at the Alexandria Blizzard two weeks ago. Jorgenson also notched a goal and three assists in the win.
Opening goals have come slowly for the WarHawks this season, but they got a much-needed opening goal in this one, with Jordan Fjosne knocking in a rebound off of an initial shot from Austin Jozwick in the slot to give Willmar the early 1-0 lead just before the first period’s halfway mark.
Jones tied the game in short order, with a puck sitting loose in the middle of the slot – with eight minutes left, Jones rattled it into the upper quadrant of the net over Cooper Olson’s left shoulder to tie the game at 1-1.
While the score remained close early, North Iowa got all the chances – the Bulls carried a 12-6 advantage on the shot count into the second period, and a 29-11 count into the third.
North Iowa grabbed the lead at 7:42 of the second, on a power play thanks to a hooking call against Willmar’s Jack Willis – a tic-tac-toe feed from Heffron found Jorgenson deep in the left-wing faceoff circle, and his wrist shot snapped past Olson for the 2-1 margin.
The lead would last four-and-a-half minutes – on a power play of their own, the WarHawks would tie it on a tap-in from Louis Anders, with Cole Wigestrand on his stomach behind the net and just able to control a pass to Anders on the doorstep.
North Iowa re-took the lead four minutes later and never relinquished it – Nick Mohs-Messerli (Orono, Minn./Orono H.S.) raced it up the right wing and found Carter Newpower (Cottage Grove, Minn./Park H.S.) in transition on the left post, and Newpower batted in a one-timer to give the Bulls a 3-2 lead with 3:43 left in the period.
With 2:07 left, Newpower added another goal to his haul, with Jorgenson finding his power-play linemate at mid-slot to rifle one past Olson for a 4-2 advantage heading to the third.
Willmar’s offense made its last stand early in the third period on a point toss from Tanner Hallett – the initial chance missed wide left, but was perfectly aimed to Michael Sweetland, who batted in the one-timer to drop the lead to 4-3 less than four minutes into the final period. With 10:34 left, however, Heffron snapped home another insurance goal off of a dot-to-dot pass from Jorgenson to push the lead to 5-3.
North Iowa’s fans were on their feet even before the final goal of the night – on a delayed boarding call against Sweetland, Jack Campion (Crystal, Minn./Armstrong H.S.) was able to gather the puck inside the right-wing faceoff circle and sneak it under the crossbar to make it 6-3. The red light, however, never came on, and Sweetland and Caleb Huffman (Anchorage, Alaska/Team Alaska U18) soon came to blows. As Huffman shoved Ben Johnson away after Johnson had also involved himself in the action, Ryne Mohrman jumped on Huffman from behind and the action began anew.
When the dust settled, North Iowa led by three goals and Huffman, Mohrman and Sweetland had all been escorted off the ice with 10-minute misconduct penalties. Tempers would briefly flare again before the end of the game, but no further damage was done on the scoreboard by either side.
In the end, North Iowa’s power play was exceptional, going 3-for-7 in the contest while Willmar earned its second power-play tally of the year in a 1-for-3 effort. The Bulls finished with 39 shots against just 23 for the visitors, with Evan Babekuhl (Long Lake, Minn./North Iowa Bulls) notching 20 saves for his fifth win of the season. Olson stopped 33 North Iowa chances, falling to 0-4.
The Bulls play again at home for the second half of their “Decade Of Dominance” Weekend on Saturday night, as the Alexandria Blizzard return to Mason City for the first time in five weeks. The evening’s festivities will include a postgame jersey auction as North Iowa sports special jerseys to celebrate its 10th Anniversary season. The opening puck drop at the Mason City Multipurpose Arena is scheduled for 7:30 p.m., with live streaming coverage on HockeyTV and free audio streaming on Mixlr. To purchase advance tickets to any upcoming North Iowa Bulls home game, click here.
Willmar 1 1 1 – 3
North Iowa 1 3 2 – 6
1st Period-1, Willmar, Fjosne 1 (Wigestrand), 9:27. 2, North Iowa, Jones 1 (Jorgenson, Heffron), 12:00. Penalties-Mohrman Wil (roughing-minor), 2:06; Jones Nio (high sticking-minor), 12:49; Mohs-Messerli Nio (checking from behind-minor), 15:00; served by Mock Wil (too many men-minor), 17:24.
2nd Period-3, North Iowa, Jorgenson 3 (Heffron, Nauss), 7:43 (PP). 4, Willmar, Anders 2 12:15 (PP). 5, North Iowa, Newpower 3 (Mohs-Messerli, Kaneko), 16:17. 6, North Iowa, Newpower 4 (Jorgenson, Heffron), 17:53 (PP). Penalties-Johnson Wil (hooking-minor), 3:59; Willis Wil (hooking-minor), 6:45; Isogai Nio (tripping-minor), 10:49; DeKraai Wil (boarding-minor), 17:18.
3rd Period-7, Willmar, Sweetland 4 (Hallett, Thomas), 3:51. 8, North Iowa, Heffron 1 (Jorgenson, Nauss), 9:26 (PP). 9, North Iowa, Campion 4 (Mohs-Messerli, Kaneko), 14:36. Penalties-O’Brien Wil (roughing-minor), 8:15; Light Wil (tripping-minor), 11:52; Mohrman Wil (roughing-minor, continuing altercation-10 misc), 14:36; Sweetland Wil (roughing-minor, boarding-minor, continuing altercation-10 misc), 14:36; Huffman Nio (roughing-double minor, continuing altercation-10 misc), 14:36; Light Wil (slashing-minor), 15:17; DeKraai Wil (hooking-minor), 15:50; Nauss Nio (cross checking-minor), 15:50; Anders Wil (roughing-minor), 18:49; Aguilera Nio (roughing-minor), 18:49.
Shots on Goal-Willmar 7-6-10-23. North Iowa 10-19-10-39.
Power Play Opportunities-Willmar 1 / 3; North Iowa 3 / 7.
Goalies-Willmar, Olson 0-4-0-0 (39 shots-33 saves). North Iowa, Babekuhl 5-2-0-0 (23 shots-20 saves).
Linesmen-Reilly Hickey, Tyler Willie.