BLAINE, Minn. – To be the best, they say you have to beat the best. North Iowa won’t truly know if they are the best until the final day of the Fraser Cup national championship tournament in March, but Todd Sanden’s team continues to beat the best as the NA3HL Showcase continues on.
The Bulls grabbed an early lead in a 2-1 win over the Yellowstone Quake in a Monday midday matinee at the Schwan Super Rink – a touch pass from Jarod Blackowiak (Eden Prairie, Minn./Austin Bruins) led Dan Sandvig (Burnsville, Minn./Burnsville H.S.) into the Quake zone up the right-wing wall, and Sandvig’s return pass to the net was tipped in high by Blackowiak just 3:31 into the contest. That marker was a power-play goal set up by Ethan Sievek’s tripping penalty at 1:41 of the period, and North Iowa was able to capitalize with just 10 seconds remaining on the penalty time.
Josh Arnold (Roseville, Minn./North Iowa Bulls) added a second goal with just 3:44 remaining on the first-period clock, but Riley Buller was able to roll the lead back to a goal with just 1:18 left in the second period.
Yellowstone picked up four power-play chances in the final period and played with at least one extra man for almost six minutes in the final period, but was never able to wipe out the lead. In all, the Quake wrapped up the day at 0-for-6 on the power play, while the Bulls finished up at 1-for-3 with the extra man.
Colin Cain (Hummelstown, Pa./N.J. Junior Titans U18) picked up the win after watching teammate Drew Scites (Plymouth, Minn./North Iowa Bulls) grab a 5-2 win Sunday against the Lewiston/Auburn Nordiques. Reid Waszczenko saw his nine-game winning streak come to a halt, and took his first regulation loss in almost three months.
The assist for Sandvig also marked his return from the NAHL’s Kenai River Brown Bears – Sandvig was called up two weeks ago and scored his first NAHL goal on Friday against the Minnesota Magicians, just across the Twin Cities metro from Blaine and a short commute from his hometown.
Of the seven other current division leaders in the NA3HL (including the Metro Jets, who have the East Division’s best winning percentage), the Bulls have already racked up wins over four – North Iowa will not play a Northeast Division team during the regular season, and took an overtime loss and a controversial shootout loss early this year against St. Louis.
North Iowa has gone 28 straight games without a loss in regulation, and moved to 23-0-2-1 with their victory over Yellowstone heading into the final day of the NA3HL Showcase. The last test before Christmas takes the defending Central Division champs up against the Texas Brahmas, who lead the South Division and upended the Bulls on the opening day of the 2016 Showcase. The opening faceoff in Blaine is scheduled for 12:15 p.m., with live streaming coverage on HockeyTV.