MASON CITY, Iowa – The North Iowa Bulls head into the 2018-19 season with six straight regular-season division championships in hand. As the team’s eighth year on the ice gets underway, they’re looking to a group of six returners to guide the group back to the NA3HL’s Fraser Cup championship tournament in Chicago.
Last year’s team won 41 games and a Central Division regular-season crown. However, there’s been lots of roster turnover as well, thanks to a record number of players moving on to college hockey or signing North American Hockey League tenders this season.
Among them is forward Cameron Fagerlee, who started his junior career last season with an 18-game point streak. That streak ranks among the all-time great runs among Bulls players. The heavy roster turnover means he and the rest of the returning players have to help create a welcoming atmosphere for the new players coming in.
“Practices and bus rides are the biggest part of that,” said Fagerlee. “That means getting to know the guys, making conversation and getting the chemistry going. As soon as we get guys talking and familiar with each other everyone starts to calm down and play better.”
Fagerlee and the rest of the returning group also have to learn the new names and faces who will join them on the bench and in the locker room.
“We just have a lot of team bonding activities together,” said second-year defenseman Ivan Bogach. “It’s only been three days and we already have had two cookouts, three practices, and one off-ice workout. Aside from that, I know some of the guys hung out at the Y together. So, I think the trick is just the amount of time we spend together every day.”
That time together also includes cookouts, bowling outings and poker nights. Fans who happen to spot the team at Monroe Field may even run into the group at its annual kickball game. All of that time together gives the boys a chance to fill the second half of one of head coach Todd Sanden’s mantras for the team.
“Coach always says, ‘Work hard, have fun,'” said returning forward Matt Dahlseide. “We just promote an environment that’s fun for the guys.”
Dahlseide had to get to know his teammates even more quickly last year, coming to town just before the holiday break. He made an immediate impact, scoring 10 points in his first five games.
Filling out the list of returning players are forwards Alex Timm and Peter Verstegen, and late-season addition Connor Poczos in net. The full roster for this season will be announced leading up to North Iowa’s season opener September 15 at the Peoria Mustangs.
Individual-game tickets will go on sale, and the promotional dates for the Bulls’ 2018-19 home schedule, will be finalized in the coming weeks. Season tickets for this year are already on sale – click here for season ticket pricing and information. Updated news and information on North Iowa Bulls hockey is always available at NorthIowaBulls.com.