WOODRIDGE, Ill. – The North Iowa Bulls took the lead on four separate occasions in their Fraser Cup opener, but the Lewiston/Auburn Nordiques had an answer each time. A resilient Nordiques team scored all three of the game’s third-period goals, and the top-seeded team in the tournament clinched its spot in the Fraser Cup’s knockout round with a 7-4 win on Thursday at the Seven Bridges Ice Arena.
Matt Rozman (Edina, Minn./Edina Jr. Gold) notched the opening goal after almost 14 scoreless minutes, unable to find a clean pass to the backdoor and poking it off of an L/A opponent on the way to the net. Nordiques forward Valeri Rykov would not get the response he wanted on his blast from the point shortly after, but Sergei Anisimov responded with a tying goal on the rebound with 4:23 left to the intermission.
The Bulls responded in kind, with Rozman burying another chance into the upper half against Daniel Miller with 1:37 to go. A power play for the Nordiques on a Brendan Studioso (Mukilteo, Wash./North Iowa Bulls) tripping minor would give them a chance to tie the game going to the intermission. That mission was accomplished with six seconds left, as Cole Ouelette’s goal tied the game at 2-2 and gave the Nordiques the momentum heading to the locker room
The Bulls weren’t about to let Lewiston/Auburn get comfortable with that momentum. At 9:14 of the second period, Nick Johnson (New Richmond, Wis./Team Wisconsin) let fly a shot from the left wing, which hit a body on the way to the net – a fortuitous bounce found Jack Giddings (Anoka, Minn./Anoka H.S.) across the slot, who swiftly finished the chance to take the lead.
L/A would make sure the lead did not last – 25 seconds later, Sam Frechette pushed one past Dysen Skinner (Billings, Mont./Sioux Falls Jr. Stampede 18U) for the third tying goal of the game.
The teams would exchange goals one more time before the end of the second stanza – Harrison Stewart’s (Rockford, Ill./Milwaukee Jr. Admirals U18) short-side wrist shot from the left-wing faceoff circle beat Miller to give the Bulls a 4-3 lead with 5:40 to go in the second period. L/A’s response came 66 seconds later, off of a setup shot from Zack Mullen, with the rebound off of Skinner’s glove finding Anisimov out front for the tying goal.
The Bulls’ final goal before the break led to the end of the night for Miller, but the start of Andrew Ghimpeteanu’s shift and the ensuing momentum swing. Rykov walked the puck through the traffic and into the back of the net at 2:59 for the go-ahead goal, followed by a rebound goal from Mullen at the 7:11 mark and the final goal from Frechette on the power play with 4:42 left. The last of those goals came against Evan Babekuhl (Orono, Minn./Orono H.S.), who entered the game following Mullen’s goal.
The game involved four ties (not including the scoreless tie at the initial faceoff), but only one lead change. Each of L/A’s responses was a swift one – North Iowa led for a total of 4:41 in the game, despite breaking a tie four times.
North Iowa out-shot L/A 40-37, but never picked up a man-advantage in the game. Lewiston/Auburn went 2-for-4 with the extra man. Rozman ended the game with a pair of goals, while Rykov ended the game with the eventual game-winner plus three assists. Frechette and Anisimov had two goals and an assist apiece for the Nordiques, with J.P. Chauvin registering three assists.
Skinner took his second loss of the postseason, making 22 saves on 28 shots. Each of Lewiston/Auburn’s goalies made 18 saves, with the Bulls getting 22 shots on Miller. Ghimpeteanu notched a shutout over his 25:40 of service, earning his fifth win this postseason.
After Lewiston/Auburn’s 4-1 win over the Helena Bighorns on Wednesday, the task for the Bulls on Friday is a straightforward one. North Iowa’s game against the Bighorns will serve as a de facto quarterfinal, with the winner picking up the second seed out of the Fraser Cup’s afternoon pool and advancing to the semifinal round. L/A won both of its pool-play games and will be the number-one seed out of the afternoon group. Friday’s opening faceoff is scheduled for 4 p.m., with exclusive live streaming coverage on HockeyTV.
Season tickets are now available for 2019-20, the North Iowa Bulls’ ninth season on the ice in Mason City. Early-bird discounts are available through May 1. For more information on North Iowa Bulls season tickets, click here.
North Iowa 2 2 0 – 4
L/A 2 2 3 – 7
1st Period-1, North Iowa, Rozman 1 (Petronack), 14:11. 2, L/A, Anisimov 1 (Rykov, Chauvin), 15:37. 3, North Iowa, Rozman 2 (Dahlseide, Bowlin), 18:23. 4, L/A, Ouellette 2 (Chauvin, Frechette), 19:18 (PP). Penalties-Blackowiak Nio (boarding-minor), 3:29; Studioso Nio (tripping-minor), 18:40.
2nd Period-5, North Iowa, Giddings 1 (Roo, Johnson), 9:14. 6, L/A, Frechette 1 (Kennedy, Secor), 10:26. 7, North Iowa, Stewart 1 (McDermott), 14:20. 8, L/A, Anisimov 2 (Rykov, Mullen), 15:26. Penalties-Verstegen Nio (slashing-minor), 5:00.
3rd Period-9, L/A, Rykov 2 (Anisimov), 2:59. 10, L/A, Mullen 1 (Rykov), 7:03. 11, L/A, Frechette 2 (Chauvin), 15:18 (PP). Penalties-Studioso Nio (head contact-minor), 15:11; Malone Lea (abuse of official-10 misc), 19:33.
Shots on Goal-North Iowa 10-16-14-40. L/A 13-11-13-37.
Power Play Opportunities-North Iowa 0 / 0; L/A 2 / 4.
Goalies-North Iowa, Skinner 0-1-0-0 (28 shots-22 saves); Babekuhl 0-0-0-0 (9 shots-8 saves). L/A, Miller 0-0-0-0 (22 shots-18 saves); Ghimpeteanu 2-0-0-0 (18 shots-18 saves).
Linesmen-Grant Crowell, Bryan Gorcoff.