MASON CITY, Iowa – The North Iowa Bulls didn't have much trouble finding players who could get pucks into the net Saturday night in the finale of their season series against the Alexandria Blizzard. Nine Bulls players found the mark in the game, and North Iowa racked up five powerplay goals on the way to an 11-3 win just a night after Todd Sanden's team eked out a 6-5 overtime victory.
The scoring started bright and early for the Bulls, as Austin Jackson's (Waterloo, IA/Minnesota Magicians) wrister in the slot at 1:46 of the first period got North Iowa on the board just 16 seconds into their first power play of the game. A wrist shot by Daylon DeSouza (Eau Claire, WI/Regis HS) right in front off a rebound doubled the lead just 33 seconds later. Even-strength goals by Carmen Dalesandro (Cannonsburg, PA) at 13:48 of the period and by Kohei Sato (Nishitokio, Japan/North Iowa Bulls) at 14:22 chased Joe Hacker from the game before the end of the first period. Adam Orn's (Ramsey, MN/North Iowa Bulls) wrist shot from the middle of the slot at 16:40 gave the Bulls their first goal against Chance Kremer for the night. Tyler Frischmon walked one into the Bulls' net past David Johnson (Bloomington, MN/North Iowa Bulls) on the powerplay at 17:02 of the first period, but a wide-open slap shot from David Min (Redmond, WA/Banff Hockey Academy) at the top of the slot less than 30 seconds later gave the Bulls their five-goal lead right back ahead of the intermission.
"We had guys who were missing a beat last night, and those guys were right on tonight," says Sanden. "Special teams obviously played a huge role in this game. We got some kids with some pretty good looks and I've got to hand it to our special teams guys, especially the power play units. I thought they were phenomenal tonight for sure."
As crucial as special-teams goals were during the first period, they were absent in the second period. Sato was the first Bull to earn a second goal for the night, scoring off of a drag across the mouth of the goal against Kremer at 2:27 of the period. David Carey earned an open-net goal at 11:26 of the second following Johnson's collision with both a Blizzard forward and a Bulls teammate in front of the net. Goals from Brett Gravelle (Forest Lake, MN/North Iowa Bulls) at 13:38 and a laser-guided shot from Eric Piatt (Fargo, ND/South Shanley HS) at the left point at 17:59 put the score at 9-2 heading into the final period.
The first marker of the third went to the visitors, on Nick Altmann's powerplay one-timer from the left side just over seven minutes into the period. Alexandria managed nothing more on the offensive end, but the Bulls capped off their night with two more powerplay goals in the third. Orn cranked in his second tally of the night on a wrist shot from the top of the slot, rattling one past Kremer's right shoulder at 13:05. Jack Stang (Mendota Heights, MN/North Iowa Bulls) and DeSouza helped set up Tommy Stang's (Mendota Heights, MN/St. Thomas Academy) powerplay finisher with 4:30 to play.
Johnson stopped 29 of the 32 shots he saw to move his record to 6-0 for the season. The win was North Iowa's 12th in a row at home, and 12th in a row overall during the 2015-16 season, setting up a pivotal home-and-home series next week against the West Division-leading Twin City Steel.
"We're not in that division anymore, but we're still fortunate to test ourselves against a West Division-leading team, so we'll make sure we have a good week of preparation to get ready for them," says Sanden.
Friday's game against the Steel is set for a 7:30 p.m. faceoff at the North Iowa Ice Arena in Mason City. Saturday's game at the White Bear Lake Sports Center is set for a 7 p.m. opening faceoff.