MASON CITY, Iowa – All the North Iowa Bulls needed to clinch an NA3HL West Division playoff spot on Saturday night was a win over the Central Division-leading St. Louis Jr. Blues. A couple of big scoring runs were exactly what the Bulls needed, and they accomplished more than they set out to do with a 7-4 win over St. Louis at the North Iowa Ice Arena. Brendan Studioso (Mukilteo, Wash./North Iowa Bulls and Harrison Stewart (Rockford, Ill./Milwaukee Jr. Admirals) tallied a goal and two assists apiece.
The Bulls scored three straight in a frenetic first period, starting with Hunter Muzzillo’s goal in the upper half of the net at the 4:05 mark of the first period.
A stretch pass from Matt Rozman (Edina, Minn./Edina Jr. Gold) set up the tying goal, leading Konnor Carlson (Inver Grove Heights, Minn./Simley H.S.) to the end boards. A backward pass caught Cam Fagerlee (St. Anthony, Minn./North Iowa Bulls) on the secondary break, and Fagerlee’s one-timer beat Mikael Foucher at the 5:47 mark to tie the game.
Jarod Blackowiak (Eden Prairie, Minn./Austin Bruins) sprinted down the ice and beat Foucher low to take the lead at 5:47, and a turnover along the corner wall just two minutes later gave Studioso plenty of space to bury a tough-angle try from just above the goal line for a 3-1 lead.
St. Louis answered back in the final 6:30 of the first period, though – Blake Dangos blasted a slap shot from the top of the North Iowa zone to cut the lead to 3-2, and a long rebound on Nathan Sargent’s right-wing shot kicked out to Joey Boccardi, who put away the equalizer with 2:30 left to the intermission.
The teams managed only 17 combined shots on goal in the first 20 minutes, but scored on six of those chances. Stewart’s long-distance toss from the right wing at 3:22 of the second period clipped Jordan Roo (Champlin, Minn./Benilde-St. Margaret’s H.S.) in front of the net, tipping the puck past Foucher for the Bulls’ second and last lead.
Stewart’s half-shot from inside the blue line 6:49 into the second period made it 5-3, and Matt Dahlseide’s (Maplewood, Minn./North Iowa Bulls) feed deep in the St. Louis zone set Joey Petronack (White Bear Lake, Minn./Hill-Murray H.S.) up for a weak-side one-timer with 8:33 to go in the second period.
With the lead already at 6-3, North Iowa closed out its four-goal run at 12:13 of the third period on a backdoor one-timer from Studioso to Jimmy McDermott (Dubuque, Iowa/Wisconsin Whalers) to lock down the game. St. Louis had the last word, on Matthew Monreal’s rush up the right wing to set up his only goal of the night just 35 seconds later.
Dysen Skinner (Billings, Mont./Sioux Falls Jr. Stampede 18U) won his fourth straight decision with 17 saves, moving to 15-4-2-0 on the season. Foucher was chased halfway through the second period after Petronack’s goal, but Jack Regan came up big with 14 saves in relief. Foucher took the loss, making just eight saves on 14 North Iowa shots.
North Iowa moved to 29-10-2-0, while St. Louis fell to 30-9-1-2, one point behind Coulee Region in the race for the Central Division lead. The win was North Iowa’s 10th in its last 11 home meetings with St. Louis, as the Bulls ran their winning streak to five games.
The Bulls return to West Division play on Friday and Saturday night with a home-and-home series against the Rochester Grizzlies. Friday night’s game is in Rochester, with a 7:05 p.m. puck drop. Saturday’s game in Mason City gets underway at 7:30 p.m. Live streaming coverage of both games is available on HockeyTV, while Friday’s game will also be audio-streamed on Mixlr.
Saturday’s game against the Grizzlies is Support Your School Night, featuring a laptop raffle and a chance to win recess with the Bulls. For advance tickets to Saturday’s game or any future Bulls home game, click here.
St. Louis 3 0 1 – 4
North Iowa 3 3 1 – 7
1st Period-1, St. Louis, Muzzillo 9 (Hofstetter, Jones), 4:05 (PP). 2, North Iowa, Fagerlee 16 (Carlson, Rozman), 5:47. 3, North Iowa, Blackowiak 23 (Studioso, McDermott), 7:49. 4, North Iowa, Studioso 20 10:53. 5, St. Louis, Dangos 3 (Biffignani, Wilson), 13:30. 6, St. Louis, Boccardi 3 (Sargent, Lodes), 17:30. Penalties-Brandt Nio (hooking-minor), 2:47; Baginski Stl (roughing-minor), 15:24; McDermott Nio (roughing-minor), 15:24.
2nd Period-7, North Iowa, Roo 7 (Stewart, Petronack), 3:22. 8, North Iowa, Stewart 7 (Carlson, Fagerlee), 6:49. 9, North Iowa, Petronack 4 (Dahlseide, Verstegen), 11:27. Penalties-Brandt Nio (cross checking-minor), 7:43; Dangos Stl (roughing-minor), 10:46; Carlson Nio (cross checking-minor), 10:46; Markiewicz Stl (cross checking-minor), 14:09; Brandt Nio (cross checking-minor), 17:34.
3rd Period-10, North Iowa, McDermott 17 (Studioso, Stewart), 12:13 (SH). 11, St. Louis, Monreal 26 (Sargent), 12:48. Penalties-Baginski Stl (interference-minor), 5:52; Dangos Stl (hooking-minor), 9:30; Wiethaupt Stl (cross checking-minor), 9:37; Verstegen Nio (slashing-minor), 10:36.
Shots on Goal-St. Louis 10-4-7-21. North Iowa 7-13-9-29.
Power Play Opportunities-St. Louis 1 / 5; North Iowa 0 / 4.
Goalies-St. Louis, Foucher 19-5-1-1 (14 shots-8 saves); Regan 5-3-0-0 (15 shots-14 saves). North Iowa, Skinner 15-4-2-0 (21 shots-17 saves).
Linesmen-Nicholas Meyer, Colin Briscoe.