ABERDEEN, S.D. – It’s not a stretch to think that the rivalry between the North Iowa Bulls and Aberdeen Wings might be the most even rivalry in the North American Hockey League. Including the preseason, the teams have now met 18 times. Nine of those get-togethers have ended up in overtime or even a shootout.
The latest of those nine came on Saturday night – neither team ever led by more than a goal, and when the dust settled, the Bulls needed their co-captain and hottest hand to lock up another victory. North Iowa ground out a 4-3 overtime win, extending its lead to five points in the Central Division standings against an idle Austin Bruins team.
Aiden Moser helped to put the Wings on top first, sliding a puck toward the Bulls net with 4:48 left in the first period – the long carom off of goaltender Erik Chaffe (Cedar Rapids, Iowa/Mason City Toros) found Nils Forselius in the left-wing faceoff circle, and his shot sneaked into the top corner of the net to give the Wings a 1-0 lead through the first period.
Aberdeen posted a 17-7 shots-on-goal advantage in the opening 20 minutes, but the Bulls snapped up the lead in the second period. At just 3:17 of the second period, Simone Dadie (Brunico, Italy/North Iowa Bulls) faced the net at the top of the slot and cranked one off the post and past Wings goaltender Cole Moore to tie the game at 1-1.
Just past the period’s halfway point, the Bulls pounced on a chance behind the net – Moore failed to sweep a loose puck far enough to find a teammate along the wall, allowing Byron Hartley (Philadelphia, Pa./North Iowa Bulls) to grab the puck and send it out front for Justin Mexico (Madison Heights, Mich./North Iowa Bulls) to bang in for a 2-1 lead with 8:54 left in the period.
The next few seconds were a flurry of activity – Dadie picked up minor and misconduct penalties for checking from behind at the 11:26 mark, putting Aberdeen on its first power play of the night. Just 23 seconds into the power play, the Wings struck – Landon Parker’s shot from the right-wing circle bounced off of Chaffe to Alex Gullichson, who was standing ready to bat home the rebound to tie the game at 2-2.
Hartley got on the score sheet himself with 57 seconds left in the period, taking a pass from Logan Dombrowsky (Stevens Point, Wis./North Iowa Bulls) at the left-wing wall before delivering a wrist shot from the point to the top corner of the net. That goal gave the Bulls a 3-2 lead, which they would defend for most of the third period.
With 2:02 remaining and North Iowa looking to ice the game with a power play goal, Nikolai Tishkevich entered the Bulls zone and brought the puck to the slot, fanning on his first chance to put the puck on the net. He quickly recovered, slinging the puck past Chaffe to tie the game for the third and final time.
Hartley and Max Scott (San Jose, Calif./North Iowa Bulls) both registered goals in the shootout, while Landry Schmuck had the only Wings goal in the skills contest. The teams each got two shots on the net during the five-minute overtime session. Scott’s five-hole goal in the top of the second round would be the difference-maker, giving him his second shootout winner in as many Saturdays.
Hartley closed out a memorable weekend with a goal and an assist, giving him six points in the weekend sweep. Tishkevich’s goal added to his team scoring lead, bumping his total to 10 points for the year.
After the Bulls dominated the special-teams storyline in Friday’s game, the Wings took advantage of the small sample size with a 1-for-2 power play mark and Tishkevich’s shorthanded goal. North Iowa missed on its only power play of the night, ending a run of five straight games with at least one power play tally. It also ended a historic run for Scott, who became only the fourth player in Bulls history to post power play goals in three straight games – he would have been the only Bull to ever accomplish the feat in four straight.
Chaffe made 36 saves to earn his fourth win in as many decisions, while Moore took the shootout loss behind a 29-save effort. North Iowa bumped its record to 8-2 for the year, earning its fifth straight win. Aberdeen slipped to its fourth straight loss, dipping to 4-5-0-1 on the year.
The Bulls will happily put their bus bags away for a while, embarking on a seven-game homestand beginning Friday and Saturday against the Minot Minotauros. The opening puck drop both nights is scheduled for 7:10 p.m., with live streaming coverage on HockeyTV Presented by Dakota Fix Shelter Insurance and NorthIowaBulls.com.
To purchase advance tickets to any upcoming North Iowa home game, call 641-423-4625 or click here. Updated news and information on Bulls hockey are always available at www.northiowabulls.com, and by following the team’s social media platforms on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.
North Iowa 0 3 0 0 – 4
Aberdeen 1 1 1 0 – 3
1st Period-1, Aberdeen, Forselius 2 (Moser, Wegner), 15:12. Penalties-No Penalties
2nd Period-2, North Iowa, Dadie 2 (MacDonald), 3:17. 3, North Iowa, Mexico 5 (Hartley), 11:06. 4, Aberdeen, Gullichsen 4 (Parker, Anderson), 11:49 (PP). 5, North Iowa, Hartley 8 (Dombrowsky, Heckman), 19:03. Penalties-Thiessen Nio (cross checking-minor), 3:25; Dadie Nio (checking from behind-minor, checking from behind-10 misc), 11:26.
3rd Period-6, Aberdeen, Tishkevich 6 (Parker, Schmuck), 17:58 (SH). Penalties-Moser Abd (interference-minor), 16:12.
OT Period- No Scoring.Penalties-No Penalties
Shootout – North Iowa 2 (Hartley G, Scott G, Mexico NG), Aberdeen 1 (O’Connell NG, Schmuck G, Parker NG).
Shots on Goal-North Iowa 7-13-10-2-1-33. Aberdeen 17-11-9-2-0-39.
Power Play Opportunities-North Iowa 0 / 1; Aberdeen 1 / 2.
Goalies-North Iowa, Chaffe 4-0-0-0 (39 shots-36 saves). Aberdeen, Moore 3-3-0-1 (32 shots-29 saves).
Linesmen-Wyatt Corrigan, Ryan Baker.