The North Iowa Bulls haven’t been on the short end of the stick much.
What they have been on is a short-handed tear.
Heading into this weekend’s home set against Twin City tonight (7:30) and Granite City on Saturday (7:30), the Bulls lead the 3HL with nine short-handed goals.
To put that into perspective, the other five teams in the 3HL West Division combined have eight short-handed goals.
“We talked about trying to upgrade our rink awareness, and maybe we did more of that than I thought,” North Iowa coach Todd Sanden said. “I think it’s a huge stat. And I’ll be honest with you, when I am recruiting players, if there is a kid on a roster and he has two or three short-handed goals, I’m going to assume the kid is fast.”
Speed has been the operative word for a North Iowa team that is second in the 3HL with 5.36 goals per game. Only St. Louis (5.4) is better in the scoring department.
Goal scoring hasn’t been a problem for the Bulls against tonight’s opponent, Twin City.
In its two wins over Twin City, North Iowa is averaging 7.5 goals per game.
Having the game at the North Iowa Ice Arena shouldn’t hurt, either.
The Bulls are 4-0 at home this season and have out-scored their opponents 18-9 in those games.
Perhaps the most telling stat in the Bulls’ recent four-game winning streak is their power-play percentage.
It wasn’t long ago North Iowa (11-2-1-0) was buried at the bottom of the 3HL standings on the power-play.
The Bulls are now eighth (out of 17) in the league and are scoring at an 18.92-percent clip with at least a man advantage.
“I kind of let (assistant coach Mark) Hicks take over the power play,” Sanden said. “He’s done a real good job with the kids. We were awful early. We are just now starting to see that work pay off.”
Tonight’s game against Twin City (5-11-0-0) is the appetizer for the weekend while Saturday’s home tilt against division-leading Granite City (14-3-0-0) is the main course.
“I don’t see our kids looking past it,” Sanden said of tonight’s game. “I’m a big proponent of respecting every proponent regardless of what you did against them in the past. Teams change from month to month and week to week.”
-Courtesy of Globe Gazette