SVEG, Sweden – Timothy Santopaolo re-wrote the record books during his two seasons in a North Iowa Bulls uniform. With 83 regular-season goals, no Bulls player has ever flipped the red light on more than “Santo.”
Now that Santopaolo’s college career is over, that playmaking ability could be a big help for a professional team. His first pro contract will also fill a page in his passport, after signing with Swedish side Svegs IK late this past week.
His play in the NA3HL electrified North Iowa fans…not to mention college scouts. His run in the league from 2012-14 produced some eye-popping numbers: 83 goals (sixth on the NA3HL’s all-time list), 101 assists (14th), and 184 points (seventh).
His 2013-14 campaign alone nearly broke the scoreboard: 118 points (sixth on the league’s single-season leaderboard), 68 assists (also sixth) and 50 goals (tied for ninth).
As a freshman at NCAA Division III Finlandia University in Michigan, Santopaolo would tally 10 points, including a pair of goals, in 22 games. Before his sophomore year, he joined a handful of former Bulls teammates at Division III Aurora University in Illinois, notching 10 goals and nine assists over 52 more appearances with the Spartans.
Santopaolo now joins a Svegs IK club that finished 6-11-1 last season in Division 2, a league that is actually the fourth level on the Swedish professional hockey ladder. Three players from North America are already signed to play for Svegs IK this season. Last year, every player except one on the roster was a Swedish native.
Three former Bulls are signed to play in the pros this season, but the Illinois native is the only one to play significant time in Mason City. Santopaolo’s longtime linemate, Rihards Marenis, was signed to a tryout this summer by Dynamo Riga of the Kontinental Hockey League, before being released late this past week. The KHL is widely considered the world’s number-two hockey league behind the National Hockey League.
Forward Kevin Lopatto played five games for the Bulls during the team’s debut season in 2011-12, and will play for Vannas HC in Sweden’s third-tier Division 1 circuit. Goaltender Adam Carlson made his junior debut for North Iowa during the 2012-13 season, and will start this season with the ECHL’s Rapid City Rush.
The North Iowa Bulls are proud to have the privilege of announcing Timothy Santopaolo’s first professional contract, and wish him the best as he continues his hockey career in Europe.
(photo courtesy: Aurora University athletics)