MASON CITY, Iowa – After being out-shot 50-28 Friday night at Rochester, the word of the night from Todd Sanden to his team was “pace.” That message was received loud and clear, and if the 7-0 win for North Iowa didn’t prove it, the 16 shots on goal in the first period certainly did.
The Bulls scored back-to-back goals less than four minutes apart in the first period, but a Peter Verstegen (Oshkosh, Wis./North Iowa Bulls) goal just 16 seconds into the third period was a gamebreaker. The back-breaker came in the final five minutes, when North Iowa added three more goals to wrap up the scoring.
“I thought Connor Poczos (Austin, Minn./North Iowa Bulls) was great for us tonight,” said head coach Todd Sanden. “He was calm, and he certainly made some hard saves for us too. We’re a young team, and still trying to find our way with the pace was a lot better tonight. Obviously, the production was good tonight too.”
Cam Fagerlee (St. Anthony, Minn./North Iowa Bulls) broke up the 0-0 tie with a mid-slot wrister, set up with a pass from Matt Dahlseide (Maplewood, Minn./North Iowa Bulls), at 8:28 of the opening period.
Zachary Simon‘s (Orono, Minn./Orono H.S.) heads-up play on the right wing set up one of the best goals of the night, though. After watching his own shot sputter off the bottom of his stick, Simon chopped the puck to open space in mid-slot, where Jordan Roo (Champlin, Minn./Benilde-St. Margaret H.S.) caught the pass, turned 270 degrees, and whipped it into the back of the net for a 2-0 lead.
“We saw him play with poise as a forward, and felt that he could handle it as a defenseman,” said Sanden. “He was so good in his decision-making, and the speed at which he plays the game, and he’s fearless. It doesn’t matter the size of the guy he goes against.”
The special-teams play showed up again at 10:58 in the second period, giving Sanden’s team yet another shorthanded tally. With time winding down on a checking-from-behind penalty to Marco Escobar (Plainfield, Ill./Sioux Falls Jr. Stampede U18), a turnover in the neutral zone allowed Dahlseide to find Brendan Studioso (Mukilteo, Wash./North Iowa Bulls) parked on the New Ulm blue line. The third-year Bulls forward walked it in to beat James Royce and send the hosts to an eventual 3-0 lead going to the third.
After scoring just 31 seconds into last week’s game against the Steel, Verstegen opened the third-period scoring with a sprint into the New Ulm zone off of the opening third-period faceoff. His opening shot of the third period beat Royce for a 4-0 advantage.
Harrison Stewart (Rockford, Ill./Milwaukee Jr. Admirals) opened the final scoring barrage by tapping one in with 4:57 remaining in the game, and Escobar pushed the lead to six goals with 3:41 to go in the game. A five-hole marker for Dahlseide gave him his first goal of the night at 17:41 of the third, and wrapped up North Iowa’s scoring for the night.
The win sends the Bulls into an important week of preparation at perennial NA3HL power St. Louis, with the Jr. Blues preparing to host their own home opener Friday evening.
“This West Division is going to be a hotly-contested division,” said Sanden. “It’s not going to come down to this early in the season. This whole thing’s a process, and some of these young guys are figuring it out a bit.”
Poczos earned his second win of the season, stopping all 32 New Ulm shots in the game. Royce struggled against the Bulls’ barrage, keeping 31 of North Iowa’s 38 chances out of the Steel cage. It was not a banner night for either team’s power play, with North Iowa and New Ulm combining to go 0-for-14 with the extra man.
Dahlseide had a next-level night for North Iowa, with a goal and three assists, and Verstegen had a goal and a couple of assists of his own.
The Bulls are back on the road for four more games, starting Friday and Saturday at St. Louis. Friday’s game gets underway at 7 p.m., with a 2 p.m. puck drop on Saturday. Live streaming coverage is available on HockeyTV.
North Iowa returns to the “Barn” on Oct. 19 to face the Breezy Point North Stars. For advance tickets to that game, or any future Bulls home game, click here.
New Ulm 0 0 0 – 0
North Iowa 2 1 4 – 7
1st Period-1, North Iowa, Fagerlee 6 (Dahlseide, Verstegen), 8:28. 2, North Iowa, Roo 1 (Simon, Escobar), 12:17. Penalties-Hudson Num (high sticking-double minor), 13:27; Ayd Num (tripping-minor), 15:09; Fagerlee Nio (holding-minor), 15:23.
2nd Period-3, North Iowa, Studioso 3 (Dahlseide, Bogach), 10:58 (SH). Penalties-Cammarata Num (tripping-minor), 4:31; Verstegen Nio (high sticking-minor), 5:10; Savelkoul Num (unsportsmanlike conduct-minor (embellishment/diving)), 5:43; Bogach Nio (high sticking-minor), 5:43; Johnson Nio (tripping-minor), 7:20; Escobar Nio (checking from behind-minor), 9:36.
3rd Period-4, North Iowa, Verstegen 6 (Dahlseide, Fagerlee), 0:16. 5, North Iowa, Stewart 1 (Verstegen, Johnson), 15:03. 6, North Iowa, Escobar 3 (McDermott, Bogach), 16:19. 7, North Iowa, Dahlseide 3 (Taraszewski), 17:41. Penalties-Verstegen Nio (tripping-minor), 4:28; Ayd Num (roughing-minor), 6:07; Simon Nio (interference-minor), 8:47; Hoeschen Num (abuse of official-minor), 11:47; Fagerlee Nio (tripping-minor), 12:40; Halvorson Num (checking from behind-minor), 12:59; Hudson Num (roughing-minor), 17:54.
Shots on Goal-New Ulm 10-9-13-32. North Iowa 17-6-15-38.
Power Play Opportunities-New Ulm 0 / 6; North Iowa 0 / 8.
Goalies-New Ulm, Royce 0-1-0-0 (38 shots-31 saves). North Iowa, Poczos 2-0-0-0 (32 shots-32 saves).