October 8, 2021 – 7:35 p.m.
October 9, 2021 – 7:35 p.m.
Maysa Arena – Minot, ND
NORTH IOWA BULLS (5-2-0-1)
@ MINOT MINOTAUROS (3-4-1-0)
BULLS vs. MINOT ALL-TIME: 0-0-0
IN A NUTSHELL:
North Iowa opens another new matchup this weekend with its longest road trip of the season.
LAST TIME OUT:
The rivalry between the North Iowa Bulls and Austin Bruins is already off to a rip-roaring start – after taking a 4-3 shootout loss last Friday evening, the Bulls went on the road last Saturday and grabbed a 4-2 win over the Bruins to even up the series and snag a share of first place in the Central Division standings. North Iowa took the lead early, with Byron Hartley rippling the net just 3:09 into the contest on a chip ahead from Anthony Galante. The Bulls rolled up a 16-7 shots-on-goal advantage in the first period, and added a second goal from Hunter Bulger with 7:28 to go in the second period, but Austin trimmed the lead on a goal from Jens Richards with 2:17 to go in the period. By the end of the game, the Bruins had eliminated the Bulls’ shots-on-goal lead, but the teams alternated goals through the end of the night – Marian Haborak dropped the lead back to a goal with 6:50 remaining, but a 2-on-1 finish from Michael Mesic with 1:41 remaining would cap the night for North Iowa. Goaltender Hunter Garvey earned his first win as a North Iowa Bull with 27 saves, and the Bulls became the first team this season to solve the Austin power play, holding the Bruins to an 0-for-5 mark on the man-advantage – prior to this game, the Bruins had scored multiple power play goals in every game.
North Iowa returns home on Friday and Saturday, October 15 and 16 for “Fall Into Hockey” weekend, featuring a pumpkin gutting contest and a pumpkin ring toss at the Friday home game and a fall treats baking contest in Saturday’s game against the Minot Minotauros.
TIME TO GET PLUGGED IN:
The penalty-killing unit for the Bulls continues to excel, posting better than an 86-percent success rate in the opening eight games of the season. The power play, however, is still looking for traction as the Central Division slate continues – North Iowa is 0-for its last 20 with the extra man, dating back to the Bulls’ power play goal from Greg Japchen midway through the first period against Kenai River at the NAHL Showcase.
TIC TAC TOE, THREE IN A ROW:
After a slow start to the season, Hunter Bulger has started to catch fire for North Iowa as Central Division play heats up – Bulger did not post a point in the Bulls’ turn at the NAHL Showcase, appearing in the first three games before being scratched from the final game of the weekend against the Kenai River Brown Bears. However, he has picked up the pace significantly in the last three games, with goals in both games against Austin and the eventual game-winner in North Iowa’s 6-5 come-from-behind victory over the Aberdeen Wings. All four of his points have come over the Bulls’ last three outings.
Bulls forward Chris Carroll is also on a roll, riding a six-game point streak, including three assists against Kenai River in the team’s NAHL Showcase finale. The last North Iowa player with a six-game point streak was Lucas Jorgenson, who earned points in all four 2021 Fraser Cup tournament games and in Games 1 and 2 of the Bulls’ West Division Finals series against Willmar. No Bulls player exceeded an eight-game point streak in 2021-22.
IN THE FIRST PLACE:
North Iowa has enjoyed some fast starts this season, and when the Bulls have been able to get the first word, they’ve been a tough troop to tame – the Bulls have scored first in six of their eight games this season, starting from behind in only their defeat against Jamestown and their shootout loss to Austin. Of those six games, the Bulls have walked away with a win five times, losing only their home opener September 24 against Aberdeen.
DOWN THE STRETCH THEY COME:
Minot has been competitive early in their games this season as well, allowing only five goals in the first period so far in 2021-22. However, they have faded a bit in the waning minutes, being outscored 11-6 in the third period. The Bulls have come out ahead over their first and third periods, and are even on the goal-scoring margin in the second period so far this season (7-7).