MASON CITY, Iowa – Based on the numbers coming into Friday’s game between the North Iowa Bulls and the Granite City Lumberjacks, one would have thought every goal and every bounce might be the last, no matter how early in the game.
Based on the opening 30 minutes of the game, though, one would have thought the score was headed to the stratosphere.
The scoring fell off after the first half of the contest, and fortunately for the Bulls, they were in the lead at that point. North Iowa gutted out a 5-4 victory, ending the Lumberjacks’ five-game winning streak, and a four-game Granite City run at the North Iowa Ice Arena.
The game started ominously on special teams, with North Iowa falling to the wrong side of a 5-on-3 just 41 seconds into the game. After killing that off, though, Bulls struck early, with Carter Wagner (Lino Lakes, Minn./Odessa Jackalopes) scoring an off-balance goal into the upper half of the net at 6:53 of the first period for a 1-0 lead.
The special teams made their strongest appearance starting with the insurance goal at 8:01 of the opening period, with Cam Fagerlee (St. Anthony, Minn./North Iowa Bulls) bouncing a wrist shot from the right-wing faceoff dot into the net off of the iron to make it a 2-0 game.
The Lumberjacks were merely getting their engines warmed up, though. With another 5-on-3 on the clock. they finally hit the gas with 10:06 left in the period, with a toss from Jack Helle hitting Blake Spetz in front of the net and bouncing past Dysen Skinner (Billings, Mont./North Iowa Bulls) to drop the lead to 2-1.
41 seconds later and still up a man, Cameron Cromwell’s slap shot from the left point bounced off of Skinner, and Bailey Sommers batted in the tying goal on a rebound, evening up both the manpower and the score.
The Bulls’ second go-ahead goal would have to wait until just under two minutes to go in the period, though, with Harrison Stewart (Rockford, Ill./North Iowa Bulls) whipping one into the net from the slot to grab the 3-2 advantage.
Just out of the gate in the second period, though, Granite City struck again to tie the game. Down a man thanks to a roughing call against Bailey Sommers, the Lumberjacks opted to risk another skater to keep him at neutral ice in case of a blocked shot. That risk paid off, with Ryan Pogue knocking down a North Iowa chance and lifting it ahead to Daymin Dodge, who scored on the breakaway at 1:50 of the second period to even it up at 3-3.
A couple of quick strikes by the Bulls, though, gave them the lead for good. Jordan Roo (Champlin, Minn./North Iowa Bulls) scored a rebound goal of his own at 4:56 of the second period, and a right-slot rocket from Sota Isogai (Nagano, Japan/Okanagan U20) less than two minutes later put North Iowa ahead 5-3.
The lead dropped to a goal on another goal from Bailey Sommers, this time a transition tally up the left wing that beat Skinner low just past the nine-minute mark of the second period. Neither team was able to get another goal on the board, despite the two groups tossing 21 shots at each other in the final 20 minutes alone.
“It feels good (to get this win),” said Roo. “I know it gives us momentum into tomorrow. Tomorrow’s going to be another tough battle like today was, so I hope we get the same outcome.”
Wagner closed out the night with a goal and two assists, while Roo and Fagerlee each added an assist to their goals. Sommers had his two goals for Granite City, while Kearby Larson also came up big with a pair of assists.
North Iowa came up big with early with the man-advantage, going 2-for-3 in the contest on the power play after a 6-for-9 showing last weekend at Breezy Point and Willmar. Granite City finished 2-for-7 on the power play. Skinner earned the win with 26 saves on 30 shots, while Huber wrapped up the night with 30 saves on 35 North Iowa chances.
The Bulls and Lumberjacks return to the ice on Saturday evening as North Iowa finishes its final full weekend at the “Barn” with their final jersey auction in the venerable old arena. The opening puck drop is scheduled for 7:30 p.m., with the Bulls’ special jerseys to be auctioned off after the game to benefit the American Cancer Society. Live streaming coverage is available on HockeyTV, with free audio streaming on Mixlr.
Updated news and information on North Iowa Bulls hockey is always available at www.northiowabulls.com, and by following the team on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube. To purchase advance tickets to future Bulls home games, call 641-423-4625 or click here.
Granite City 2 2 0 – 4
North Iowa 3 2 0 – 5
1st Period-1, North Iowa, Wagner 4 (Roo, Sullivan), 6:53. 2, North Iowa, Fagerlee 15 (Wahlin, Wagner), 8:01 (PP). 3, Granite City, Spetz 7 (Helle, Pogue), 9:54 (PP). 4, Granite City, Sommers 7 (Larson, Cromwell), 10:35 (PP). 5, North Iowa, Stewart 4 (Aguilera, Vercellono), 18:07 (PP). Penalties-served by Wagner Nio (unsportsmanlike conduct-minor), 0:41; Fagerlee Nio (head contact-minor), 0:41; Sommers Gcy (cross checking-minor), 7:13; Saltness Nio (checking from behind-minor, checking from behind-10 misc), 9:08; Fagerlee Nio (checking from behind-minor), 9:45; Bromberg Gcy (interference-minor), 16:50.
2nd Period-6, Granite City, Dodge 11 (Larson), 1:50 (SH). 7, North Iowa, Roo 12 (Fagerlee, Wagner), 4:56. 8, North Iowa, Isogai 8 (Hempel, Triemert), 6:48. 9, Granite City, Sommers 8 (Dahlheimer), 9:06. Penalties-Sommers Gcy (roughing-minor), 1:27.
3rd Period- No Scoring.Penalties-Fagerlee Nio (high sticking-double minor), 0:13; Cromwell Gcy (tripping-minor), 1:57; Bissett Gcy (roughing-minor), 7:11; Aguilera Nio (roughing-minor), 7:11; Roitman Nio (slashing-minor), 18:50.
Shots on Goal-Granite City 10-9-11-30. North Iowa 12-13-10-35.
Power Play Opportunities-Granite City 2 / 7; North Iowa 2 / 3.
Goalies-Granite City, Huber 4-3-0-0 (35 shots-30 saves). North Iowa, Skinner 7-0-1-0 (30 shots-26 saves).
Linesmen-Michael Ifkovits, Jeffery Pacocha.