February 11, 2022 – 7:15 p.m..
February 12, 2022 – 7:15 p.m.
Odde Ice Center – Aberdeen, S.D.
NORTH IOWA BULLS (19-16-1-4)
@ ABERDEEN WINGS (20-17-1-2)
BULLS vs. ABERDEEN ALL-TIME: 2-3-3
IN A NUTSHELL:
North Iowa makes its final trip to the Odde Ice Center this season, barring a meeting with the Wings in the Robertson Cup Playoffs.
NEXT HOME GAME:
The Bulls return to home ice Friday and Saturday, February 18 and 19 as the Bismarck Bobcats make the trip to Mason City. Friday’s game is the Bulls’ Fan Appreciation Night, with foam “Thumbs-Up” hands going to the first 100 fans in the door on National Thumbs-Up Night, and Saturday’s game will feature an on-ice Tug-of-War tournament for National Tug-of-War Night.
Bulls forward Michael Mesic made quite the impression among the scouts at the North American Hockey League’s Top Prospects event in Pittsburgh this past Monday and Tuesday, as part of the NAHL Selects team – Mesic ripped a late goal for the Selects in Monday’s 5-2 loss to the United States National Team Development Program’s U17 squad, and added an assist the following day in a 3-2 win over the Midwest Division team. Bulls teammates Logan Dombrowsky, Byron Hartley and Dylan Gajewski appeared for the Central Division team in its 1-1 finish, but did not factor in the scoring in either a loss to the Midwest on Monday or a win over the South Division on Tuesday.
PENNING QUITE THE STORY:
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania native Byron Hartley continues to crank out the scoring for the Bulls, adding an assist in last Saturday’s win over the Bruins – he has posted points in six of his last eight games, bumping his total for the season to 14 goals and 11 assists. Of his 25 points this season, 12 have come just since January 15, and his 14 goals for the year tie for second on the team behind only Carter Rapalje.
As junior hockey teams across the country lock in their final rosters for the season, the Bulls got quite a welcome gift from their newest netminder last weekend – Kyle Kozma made his North Iowa debut with 25 saves, earning the win in last Saturday’s 4-2 win over Austin. Kozma is settling in at his final junior stop after previously winning five games for the Aberdeen Wings and Minnesota Magicians this year, and playing in his native Canada for the Virden Oil Capitals, North York Rangers and Drumheller Dragons in previous seasons. As if last week’s game wasn’t enough excitement, Kozma also celebrated his 21st birthday on Wednesday. Kozma was the goaltender in both of the Wings’ first two regular-season games against North Iowa, splitting the two outings.
HUNDO P = 100 POINTS:
Jack Campion also earned a spot on the scoresheet last Saturday against the Bruins, putting him within two points of the century mark for his junior hockey career. Eight of those points have come since making his debut on the NAHL scoresheet on December 17 with an assist at Bismarck. Sota Isogai finally passed Campion for second place on the Mason City Toros’ scoring list, despite Campion’s absence from the Toros’ roster since December 22.
HAVEN’T WE MET BEFORE?:
The season series between the Bulls and the Wings is winding down, as the teams prepare for their second weekend on Aberdeen’s home ice in three weeks – Aberdeen spent last weekend on the road, making this the second half of a run of four straight home games against the Bulls. When the two teams meet up again in March in Mason City, they’ll finish a series of 14 games against each other over the regular season and preseason, with the possibility of five more in the Central Division postseason. After their home set against the Minot Minotauros in a couple of weeks, the only teams remaining on the Wings’ home slate will be the Bismarck Bobcats and the Austin Bruins.
TOO CLOSE FOR COMFORT:
With most teams across the division reaching the two-thirds mark of the season last weekend and St. Cloud hitting the 60-percent mark on its schedule, the Central Division standings are about as tight as could be imagined. The Norsemen have caught fire, rocketing up the leaderboard with wins in eight straight games, and all of the division’s top five teams currently sit within six points of each other. Even the Bismarck Bobcats are factoring into the conversation, sitting just 10 points back of a playoff spot as they continue their climb back from an 0-6 start to the season in September.