AFFTON, Mo. – North Iowa got Saturday’s game to a shootout, but the St. Louis Jr. Blues did something this past weekend that they’ve never done before – sweep North Iowa on home ice. Ivan Galaguzov’s controversial goal in the sixth round of Saturday’s shootout gave the Jr. Blues a 5-4 victory, giving them their first home season sweep ever over the Bulls.
The controversy didn’t surround the goal itself, but the circumstances that led to it. The NA3HL adopted a three-round shootout format prior to the 2015-16 season, after previously proceeding to a five-round shootout after overtime. Mitch Dolter‘s (Faribault, Minn./North Iowa Bulls) goal in the second round of the shootout was the only goal in the first three rounds, but referee Kollin Knapp sent the teams back to the ice to proceed into a fourth round. Cameron McAtee’s goal in the fourth round tied the shootout, and Galaguzov’s goal broke the tie to send the Jr. Blues off the ice with the extra standings point.
Both teams wrestled for control throughout the contest – Melwin Nilsson’s goal at 10:20 of the first period started the scoring for St. Louis, and the Jr. Blues pushed the lead to 2-0 on Tom Yurisich’s goal with 2:15 left on the clock.
After 40 minutes, though, it was the Bulls who had the lead. Jason Miner (Cottage Grove, Minn./North Iowa Bulls) halved the lead just 4:14 after the intermission, and Cameron Fagerlee (St. Anthony, Minn./Totino-Grace H.S.) eliminated it just before the halfway mark of the second period. With 5:40 remaining in the second, Josh Arnold (Roseville, Minn./North Iowa Bulls) put one over the goal line for the visitors’ first lead of the game.
The next lead change would come just under halfway through the third period – Jack Hatton and Galaguzov connected for the tying goal at the 4:25 mark and the go-ahead goal four minutes later. Colin Cain (Hummelstown, Pa./N.J. Junior Titans U18) left the net for the extra attacker with 1:10 remaining, and the move for the extra attacker paid off with Ryan Kranz‘s (Lino Lakes, Minn./Centennial H.S.) first goal in a Bulls uniform with 29 seconds left.
The Jr. Blues managed four shots to North Iowa’s three in the extra five-minute session, but neither team was able to grab final control until Galaguzov’s tally at the end of Saturday’s shootout.
Blake Bjella made 22 saves on the day to win his fourth decision and remain unbeaten on the season. Each team had its chances on the power play, with the Bulls posting a 1-for-3 mark on the man-advantage and the Jr. Blues ending the day 1-for-4.
The Bulls will be off from competition this week before making their home debut for 2017-18 against the Wisconsin Whalers. The opening faceoff on Friday, Oct. 20 is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. at the North Iowa Ice Arena in Mason City. Live video streaming for all games is available on HockeyTV and free audio streaming for all home games is available on Mixlr. To purchase tickets for next weekend’s games or any Bulls home game, visit northiowabulls.com/tickets.