MASON CITY, Iowa – Brendan Studioso (Mukilteo, Wash./North Iowa Bulls) got a brief call to the Minnesota Wilderness Wednesday – the moment he got back to Iowa, he went wild with three goals in an 8-5 win over the Wisconsin Whalers.
The game itself was a celebration – one to recognize last year’s Central Division champions, the team’s fifth straight division crown, and the highly-anticipated start of hockey season at “The Barn.” As loud as the crowd of 1,186 was at the start of the game, though, Nick Rogers quieted them by opening the scoring just 33 seconds into the contest.
Studioso scored two of his three goals in the opening 20 minutes, starting with 8:02 remaining on the clock. Tyler Bump (Prior Lake, Minn./North Iowa Bulls) scored to take the lead with 5:14 to go before the intermission, and Studioso scored the insurance goal with 2:32 on the clock.
Wisconsin would never lead again, but they never lost their fight – Rogers set up Hunter Huson on the power play 3:40 into the second period to cut the lead to 3-2, but Studioso finished his hat trick less than three minutes later on a shorthanded goal. Rogers tallied another power play goal just inside the eight-minute mark, and the 4-3 North Iowa lead held until the intermission.
The Bulls finally gained control in the opening minutes of the third – Josh Arnold (Roseville, Minn./North Iowa Bulls), Alex Timm (Sand Creek, Wis./Northwest H.S.) and Cameron Fagerlee (St. Anthony, Min./Totino-Grace H.S.) all put pucks in the net in the first 5:47, with only a Dan Lienemann tally to break up the sequence.
After eight games without giving up a shorthanded goal, Wisconsin broke through to cut the lead to 7-5 with just six minutes to go. Whalers coach Tom McDermott pulled Alex Hufford from the contest late, opening up the net for Dominic Skrelja (South Lyon, Mich./Honeybaked U18) to finish off the scoring with an empty-net marker.
The game was also a homecoming of sorts for Connor Clemons (Savage, Minn./Minnesota Magicians) – after playing four games in the North American Hockey League, the former Bull became a current Bull again with two assists in his return to North Iowa.
The Whalers came up big on special teams, going 2-for-3 on the man-advantage on the night, but the visitors also gave up their fifth shorthanded goal of the year in the process.
Drew Scites (Plymouth, Minn./North Iowa Bulls) returned to the ice after four straight Colin Cain starts, making 21 saves on 26 Whaler attempts to take his third win of the season. The second-year Bulls netminder has won 14 of his last 16 decisions, dating back to last year.
The Bulls are back in action Saturday night, with a 7:30 p.m. faceoff at the North Iowa Ice Arena in Mason City. For tickets to Saturday’s game, or future North Iowa home games, click here. All Bulls games, home and away, are streamed live on HockeyTV, and Saturday night’s game will also be audio-streamed at no charge on Mixlr.