MASON CITY, Iowa – The North Iowa Bulls are just 60 minutes into their brand-new season, but the team’s strengths are rapidly revealing themselves.
One of those is the special teams – North Iowa netted three goals on the power play, while killing off all four of Alexandria’s chances, in a 9-1 victory on Friday night at the Mason City Multipurpose Arena. A shot from the right point was knocked down before Alex Heidenreich gathered the puck and tossed it past Evan Babekuhl (Long Lake, Minn./North Iowa Bulls) just 6:11 into the game, giving the visitors the opening swing of momentum.
The Bulls had all the response they needed in the minutes surrounding the first intermission. An Austin McNeil roughing minor opened the door for North Iowa to holler back, and they did just that on Carter Eha’s (Bloomington, Minn./North Iowa Bulls) pass to the backdoor, with Dalton Saltness (Forest Lake, Minn./North Iowa Bulls) waiting on the doorstep for the tying one-timer at 17:57 of the period.
“We just tried to get it across the crease and make the goalie move, make him work a little harder,” said Saltness. “In practice this week, one of the plays was just to walk to the center and go backdoor, and [Isaac Lindstrom] and I decided that we were going to try it out.”
Caleb Huffman’s (Fairbanks, Alaska/Meijer AAA) interception at neutral zone set up a chance for Hayden Fox (Anchorage, Alaska/Team Alaska U18) at the net, who batted in a loose puck from just underneath the crossbar with 44.4 seconds to go in the period, giving the hosts a 2-1 lead at the break.
The Bulls made their statement in the middle stanza – a clearing attempt landed at the feet of Huffman on the left point, who tossed it into the net from the left point just 1:46 out of the break, pushing the lead to 3-1. Tucker Lien (Eagle River, Alaska/Team Alaska U18) fired one past Greilich from the front edge of the slot just 2:22 later, giving the Bulls a three-goal cushion.
Saltness chased Greilich from the net with his second goal at 8:32 of the second period. From below the goal line, Eha once again set up Saltness for a tap-in, pushing North Iowa ahead 5-1. Bailey Rosch got his chance to shut down the Bulls, but Jac Triemert (Woodbury, Minn./North Iowa Bulls) fed Sota Isogai at the edge of the slot for a one-timer tally with 3:17 to go in the period, sending the Bulls back into the locker room with a 6-1 lead.
Even the penalty-killing group got in on the action, with Isaac Lindstrom (Chippewa Falls, Wis./Chippewa Falls H.S.) rushing down the right wing into the Alexandria zone and sniping one past Rosch at 3:32 of the final period for a 7-1 lead. Callahan Nauss (Wayzata, Minn./North Iowa Bulls) fed Fox for another backdoor tap-in at the 5:18 mark, and Brayden Uttech’s (Sun Prairie, Wis./Wisconsin Rapids Riverkings) backdoor one-timer from Lien with just 34 seconds remaining capped the scoring and gave North Iowa its final power-play goal of the evening.
Greilich took the loss, making 26 saves before exiting after Saltness’s second goal. Rosch made 19 saves of his own in relief, while Babekuhl earned the win with 17 saves for the Bulls on just 18 Alexandria shots.
Uttech and Huffman put three points apiece on the stat sheet, with each totaling up a couple assists to go with their markers. Sean Sullivan (Middleton, Wis./North Iowa Bulls) and Eha had a pair of helpers, but were not able to get on the scoreboard in the game. The Bulls made their mark in the second period, out-shooting Alexandria 27-5 in the middle 20 minutes. The final count belonged to the Bulls, by a 54-18 margin.
The Bulls turn around and head to Granite City next weekend as the arch-rival Lumberjacks await next Friday and Saturday night. The puck drops Friday and Saturday night in Sauk Rapids, Minnesota at 7:30 p.m. with live streaming coverage on HockeyTV.
To purchase tickets for any upcoming Bulls home game, call 641-423-4625 or click here. Updated news and information on North Iowa’s 10th Anniversary season are always available at www.northiowabulls.com, and by following the team at Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.
Alexandria 1 0 0 – 1
North Iowa 2 4 3 – 9
1st Period-1, Alexandria, Heidenreich 1 (Revering, Taylor), 6:11. 2, North Iowa, Saltness 1 (Eha, Lindstrom), 17:57 (PP). 3, North Iowa, Fox 1 (Huffman, Uttech), 19:16. Penalties-Uttech Nio (tripping-minor), 6:34; McNeil Alx (roughing-minor), 17:24.
2nd Period-4, North Iowa, Huffman 1 (Mohs-Messerli), 1:46. 5, North Iowa, Lien 1 (Uttech, Fox), 4:08. 6, North Iowa, Saltness 2 (Eha, Sullivan), 8:23. 7, North Iowa, Isogai 1 (Triemert, Huffman), 16:43 (PP). Penalties-Tarlton Nio (holding-minor), 11:05; Kenny Alx (cross checking-minor), 11:43; Phelps Alx (slashing-minor), 14:59; Roitman Nio (interference-minor), 19:34.
3rd Period-8, North Iowa, Lindstrom 1 3:32 (SH). 9, North Iowa, Fox 2 (Nauss), 5:23. 10, North Iowa, Uttech 1 (Lien, Sullivan), 19:25 (PP). Penalties-Eha Nio (high sticking-minor), 3:13; Duckson Alx (cross checking-minor), 5:47; Johnson Alx (slashing-major, slashing-ej, fighting under 5 minutes-gm), 18:30; Sanborn Alx (roughing-minor), 18:30; Eha Nio (fighting under 5 minutes-gm), 18:30.
Shots on Goal-Alexandria 9-5-4-18. North Iowa 17-27-10-54.
Power Play Opportunities-Alexandria 0 / 4; North Iowa 3 / 6.
Goalies-Alexandria, Greilich 0-1-0-0 (31 shots-26 saves); Rosch 0-0-0-0 (23 shots-19 saves). North Iowa, Babekuhl 1-0-0-0 (18 shots-17 saves).
Linesmen-C. Harrington, Reilly Hickey.