Power Plays Power Through As Wings Win In Shootout

Mar 18, 2022


MASON CITY, Iowa – In 10 previous meetings between North Iowa and Aberdeen, the Bulls and Wings had combined for just four power play goals, with the penalty-killing units holding an overwhelming advantage in their 67 chances thus far.

Turns out, the power play units were just biding their time.

The special teams came alive for both teams on the power play Friday night, nearly matching their season mark with three total power play goals in a 4-3 shootout victory for the Wings at the Mason City Arena. The win gave North Iowa its first standings point on home ice since taking a pair of shootout losses on January 7 and 8 against the Wings, but the Bulls will head into Saturday’s rematch hunting for another all-important NAHL Central Division victory.

The Bulls had the advantage early on, despite scoring chances being slow to come for each side – with just 3:06 left in the first period, the Bulls broke the seal on the scoring column when Carter Rapalje (Burlington, Vt./Amarillo Bulls) popped the puck past Greg Orosz and into the top of the net for a 1-0 North Iowa lead.

Penalties proved costly just after the first intermission, though – with the Bulls down 5-on-3 barely a minute into the second period and time expiring on a tripping minor to Joey Potter (Pittsburgh, Pa./Twin City Thunder), North Iowa hardly had enough time to get its fourth skater back into the play before Kyle Gaffney tossed a rebound from Cade Neilson to the back post to tie the game at 1-1.

The hits came quickly just after the midway point of the period, starting with another power play tally. This time, Neilson handled the work himself, rifling a wrist shot past Hunter Garvey (San Diego, Calif./Amarillo Bulls) from high in the right-wing circle to get the Wings into the lead at 11:02 of the period. Just 47 seconds later, a setup pass from below the goal line from Will Diamond found Jackson Yee in front of the net, and his one-timer sneaked past Garvey’s right pad to double the margin to 3-1.

Rapalje had the resounding response just 23 seconds out of the locker room in the third period, outrunning the Aberdeen defense and slipping the puck back to his forehand before snapping it past Orosz and trimming the deficit to 3-2.

The Bulls would need a power play of their own to get the equalizer, and they got both thanks to a cross-checking call against Ronan Walsh halfway through the third. With 8:10 remaining, Potter ripped a shot down the slot that hit its target and brought the crowd to its feet for a 3-3 tie.

North Iowa continued to scrap for the go-ahead goal, peppering the Wings net with 11 shots in the third period and eventually getting the shots-on-goal margin back within one going to overtime. Both teams were choosy with their chances in overtime, with just three shots between the teams over the five-minute bonus session.

The shootout got started with a bang for Patrick O’Connell, opening with a low goal in the top of the first round, but Max Scott (San Jose, Calif./Amarillo Bulls) answered with a goal of his own along the ice in the bottom of the second round. The very next shot was the eventual winner, with Will Gilson driving the puck toward the net and forehanding his chance past Garvey and etching his name into the final record of the game.

The power plays posted an impressive 3-for-7 mark in the game, with Aberdeen going 2-for-4 and North Iowa scoring once on its three opportunities. Neilson and Gaffney had a goal and an assist apiece for Aberdeen, and Gilson’s two assists got him back on the score sheet after a scoreless weekend against Bismarck snapped a nine-game point streak.

However, no one had more impressive nights than Rapalje and Logan Dombrowsky (Stevens Point, Wis./Amarillo Bulls). Rapalje finished with two goals, his first multi-goal night in two months, while Dombrowsky returned from a six-week stint on the injury list with three assists, tying his season high. Potter had a goal and an assist, while Michael Mesic (Plymouth, Mich./Honeybaked 16U) also earned an assist, notching a point in his sixth straight game against the Wings.

Garvey was solid in net again despite taking his fifth shootout loss of the season, making 21 saves on 24 Aberdeen chances. Orosz earned his eighth win of the season with 19 stops on 22 Bulls shots. The Bulls have played Aberdeen to overtime five times this season, taking four shootout losses – both are single-season team records against a single opponent.

North Iowa closes out its 12-game regular-season series against the Wings on Saturday night with one last rematch at the Mason City Arena. The opening puck drop is scheduled for 7:30 p.m., with live streaming coverage on HockeyTV Presented by Dakota Fix Shelter Insurance and Mixlr.

The Bulls’ Saturday night contest is their “Goal, Goal, Goal and a Bottle of Rum” game, with all Cutwater rum drinks marked down to just $3. The first 100 kids in the building will receive a free pirate’s eye patch, and gold doubloons worth $1 off any beer at the beer stand will be tossed into the crowd throughout the game. To purchase advance tickets to Saturday’s game or any upcoming North Iowa Bulls home game, call 641-423-4625 or click here. Updated news and information on North Iowa Bulls hockey are always available at www.northiowabulls.com, and by following the team’s social media platforms on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.


Aberdeen 0 3 0 0 – 4
North Iowa 1 0 2 0 – 3

1st Period-1, North Iowa, Rapalje 22 (Potter, Dombrowsky), 16:54. Penalties-Gaffney Abd (slashing-minor), 4:02; Campion Nio (too many men-minor), 5:08; Potter Nio (tripping-minor), 18:55.

2nd Period-2, Aberdeen, Gaffney 14 (Neilson, Gilson), 1:03 (PP). 3, Aberdeen, Neilson 21 (Gilson, Gaffney), 11:02 (PP). 4, Aberdeen, Yee 12 (Diamond, Carlstrom), 11:50. Penalties-Vlasich Nio (high sticking-minor), 0:42; Galante Abd (holding-minor), 7:16; Gajewski Nio (slashing-minor), 9:33.

3rd Period-5, North Iowa, Rapalje 23 (Dombrowsky, Mesic), 0:23. 6, North Iowa, Potter 3 (Mesic, Dombrowsky), 11:51 (PP). Penalties-Walsh Abd (cross checking-minor), 10:30.

OT Period- No Scoring.Penalties-No Penalties

Shootout – Aberdeen 2 (O’Connell G, Neilson NG, Gilson G), North Iowa 1 (Dombrowsky NG, Scott G, Rapalje NG).
Shots on Goal-Aberdeen 7-11-4-2-1-25. North Iowa 5-5-11-1-0-22.
Power Play Opportunities-Aberdeen 2 / 4; North Iowa 1 / 3.
Goalies-Aberdeen, Orosz 8-6-1-0 (22 shots-19 saves). North Iowa, Garvey 14-16-1-5 (24 shots-21 saves).
Referees-William Fraser.
Linesmen-Andrew Bartholomay, Grant Crowell.