Veteran Foundation Key for Bulls

    What makes a team successful? In junior hockey, a strong group of veteran players are an important part of the dynamics. Veteran players provide leadership in key situations as they have been through them before. They provide an extra level of performance as they are usually stronger and more relaxed in those difficult situations as well. The North Iowa Bulls have relied on several 1992 birth year players this season, their last year of junior eligibility. 
    North Iowa has seven 92's on their roster that has a total of 25 players. Six of those players are position players, with goaltender Matt Bartels rounding out the group. Breaking down the Bulls' scoring you will find that this quarter of the roster has provided a third of the offensive output for the Bulls. Even "Barty" has chipped in some offense. The 92's account for 269 of the Bulls' 791 points this season. 
    Leading the charge in totals is James Hughes. Jimmy has an exceptional 70 points (25G, 45A) and those numbers include 5 game winners on the campaign. Eric Behrend is second among the 92's with 29 goals and 35 assists, which is good for 64 points, and he has also mixed in 5 game winners this season. "Behr" also leads the team with 8 powerplay goals. Patrick Sivets, the St. Olaf College recruit, leads the Bulls in goals with 34. Sivets has 4 game winners and 23 assists to run his point total to 57 on the season. Connor Langfield, arguably the best defenseman in the 3HL and most definitely the Bulls most improved player from last season leads the team with and league with a +65 rating during the regular season. Connor has been extremely productive in special teams situations, as 24 of his 48 points have come either a man up or a man down. Connor also has 5 game winning goals, and this is even more remarkable for a defenseman, who are normally at least 60 feet away from the cage. 
    Bryan Broders and Bobby Chapman were both late additions to the Bulls' roster. Broders has 21 points in 36 games for the Bulls, and that includes two game winning tallies. Broders is a key shut-down player for the Bulls as he is one of the strongest guys on the team and is relied upon late in games to control the defensive zone. "Chappy" is no stranger to Bulls' fans and most certaily a fan-favorite. Chappy's style of play rhymes perfectly with his nickname "Scrappy" and as Bulls' fans are well aware, he is always down for dropping the mitts and chucking some knuckles. Bobby was one of the captains on the team last season and would be again this year had he been with the Bulls sooner. Starting the season in the NAHL, Bobby returned to the Bulls in late January and has continued his leadership role that was established last year. Bobby has 8 points in 13 games to go along with 38 penalty minutes. 
    Matt Bartels rounds out the 92's and its only fitting that we speak of him last. No team can be successful without solid goaltending and "Barty" has been the foundation that the Bulls build from. Bartels gives the Bulls a chance to win every single night, and has stolen a game or two for the Bulls as well. Matt led the 3HL in wins this season with 25 and played an astounding 1,836 minutes during the season. 
    Look for the Bulls to lean on the support of their 92's during this playoff season. "All of these guys have played at least two years for me and I would gladly put my fate in their hands on any given evening," Head Coach Todd Sanden noted. He went on to say, "These are players who are warriors, players who are champions, and I the fullest confidence that they will carry our team during the playoffs." 
    The Bulls start the "Stampede to the Silver Cup" tonight with Game 1 of the West Division Playoffs slated to begin at 7:30pm tonight at the Barn! Come on out, be loud, be proud, and cheer on your Bulls to the Silver Cup! Go Bulls!