MASON CITY, Iowa – The North Iowa Bulls have long been known as a team that has its legs by the start of the second period and then makes its move to take control of the game. That was the way of it Friday night, as the Bulls used a pair of power-play goals and a 14-1 margin on shots to take command in a 6-1 final score over the New Ulm Steel.
North Iowa scored a bit too early for the special teams to take advantage in the opening period, with Josh Arnold (Roseville, Minn./North Iowa Bulls) getting things started at the 8:37 mark. The Bulls were unable to convert on either of their first two opportunities late in the period, but went into the second period up a man thanks to Jimmy Miller’s minor for hooking.
Cameron Fagerlee (St. Anthony, Minn./Totino-Grace H.S.) made his mark with 33 seconds left on that power play, just 36 seconds into the second period. Peter Verstegen (Oshkosh, Wis./Oshkosh H.S.) hooked up with Bryceton Butkiewicz (Kettle River, Minn./Minnesota Wilderness) at 6:05 of the period to make it 3-0, and other power-play tally from Mitch Dolter (Faribault, Minn./North Iowa Bulls) with 4:08 left sent North Iowa back into the locker room up by four goals.
Veteran Connor Clemons (Prior Lake, Minn./Minnesota Magicians) made his return to the Bulls last week from the NAHL, and made his mark on the game with his first goal of the season at 2:30. Brendan Studioso (Mukilteo, Wash./North Iowa Bulls) broke loose for a shorthanded goal to finish off the scoring with 8:32 remaining. Only a Ryan Smith goal with 5:22 on the clock would find its way past Colin Cain (Hummelstown, Pa./N.J. Junior Titans U18) to bust up the shutout.
“We played hard, and we’re going to have to play even harder [Saturday],” said Cain. “They’ll be ready to play and they know how we play. I think if we play hard again we’ll get another W.”
Cain had his best night yet in net for North Iowa, making 18 saves on 19 shots. In all, North Iowa wrapped up the evening 2-for-5 on the power play and earned a goal on the penalty-kill for the third straight game.
The Bulls are back in action Saturday night in New Ulm, Minnesota to finish the home-and-home against the Steel. The opening faceoff is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. at the New Ulm Civic Center. All Bulls games, home and away, are streamed live on HockeyTV, and Saturday night’s road game will also be audio-streamed for free on Mixlr.