MASON CITY, Iowa – It would be impossible to talk about Saturday night’s game between North Iowa and Wisconsin without discussing the special teams.
The Whalers went 2-for-7 on the power play, and their hosts were 2-for-5, plus a shorthanded goal from Josh Arnold (Roseville, Minn./North Iowa Bulls) late in the second period. Add a two-goal surge late in the first period and it all adds up to a 7-3 Bulls win and a brand-new North Iowa winning streak.
Mitch Dolter (Faribault, Minn./North Iowa Bulls) ripped one past Alex Hufford from behind a defender just 4:33 into the game, but Carter Grobstick’s rebound goal four minutes later on the man-advantage tied things at 1. Jimmy McDermott used Dolter’s strategy against the Bulls at the 14:32 mark, using the defender as a screen to score and grab a lead for the Whalers.
Just one night after returning from the Minnesota Wilderness and posting a hat trick, Brendan Studioso (Mukilteo, Wash./North Iowa Bulls) tallied again with 1:05 left before the break, and Studioso set Arnold up for a go-ahead goal with 30 seconds remaining.
“It created some positive momentum coming out of that first period,” said head coach Todd Sanden. “Having the lead, the guys go into the [locker] room and they’re feeling a little bit better about the situation. Arnold, Studioso and Dolter were the catalysts for us.”
The second period is when the special teams showed up for the home team – Tyler Bump (Prior Lake, Minn./North Iowa Bulls) and Dolter scored back-to-back power-play goals to push the lead to 5-2, but a tough-angle shot from Jimmy McDermott was dropped in front of the net for Dan Lienemann to finish off with 7:12 on the clock.
A turnover in front of the North Iowa crowd of more than 1,200 gave Arnold his shorthanded opportunity, racing into the Wisconsin zone down the right wing to push the lead back to three heading to the break.
The only goal in the third period may have the game’s oddest – with 4:37 remaining, Jason Miner (Cottage Grove, Minn./North Iowa Bulls) tried to center the puck to Studioso from behind the goal line, but the setup pass hit Hufford in the elbow and slipped behind him and into the net for the final tally of the game.
“Getting four points at home, that’s what we’re looking to do,” said head coach Todd Sanden. “I liked the end result – maybe the way we danced wasn’t the prettiest way to get it done, but at the end of the day it’s four points at home.”
Colin Cain (Hummelstown, Pa./N.J. Junior Titans U18) remains unbeaten in regulation, stopping 18 of the Whalers’ 21 shots for his fifth victory of the season. Hufford fell to 0-6 for the season, making 34 saves on the night.
After a 10-6 margin in shots in the opening 20 minutes, four North Iowa power plays in the middle period gave Sanden’s team plenty of looks at the net. The Bulls put 23 shots on net in the middle stanza, pushing the margin to 33-9 in favor of North Iowa heading to the last period of the game.
The New Ulm Steel will visit “The Barn” on Friday night to start a home-and-home series to wrap up the month of October. The opening faceoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m., with live streaming coverage on HockeyTV. Friday’s game is “Pink the Rink” night, with specialty apparel and merchandise for sale. Proceeds from those items will benefit Mercy Medical Center North Iowa’s Cancer Center. For tickets to Friday’s game or future Bulls home games, click here.