Post Game Report 2-17
WILLMAR, Minn. – The first 60 minutes of Friday’s game between the Bulls and the Willmar WarHawks featured three ties, but never a lead change. That lead change came just 34 seconds into the extra session, and the WarHawks can thank Wyatt Toll for it. The fifth and final Willmar shot of the extra session beat Brady Meyers (Rochester, Minn./Austin Bruins) to finish the flurry with a 4-3 victory.
The scoring started just 4:30 into the game for the Bulls, when Tyler Bump (Prior Lake, Minn./Minnesota Magicians) got a left-point pass in front of the net from Connor Clemons (Savage, Minn./Prior Lake H.S.) and tapped it in for the opening goal. Max Oelkers would tie the game with just under six minutes left in the period, but the lead belonged to the Bulls at the intermission thanks to Josh Arnold (Roseville, Minn./Bismarck Bobcats), who broke free up the middle of the ice and snuck one past Alex Cathcart with 2:31 to go before the break.
Braden Shea’s tying tally came at 7:15 of the second period, but the Bulls didn’t wait terribly long to get back on top – a pass from Sean Mallonee (Kennewick, Wash./North Iowa Bulls) at the goalpost went back to Lucas McKinnon (Mason City, Iowa/Appleton United H.S.), who was waiting on the weak side to swat in a top-shelf one-timer for a 3-2 lead.
Leonardo Ewald’s goal just over five minutes into the final period set up the next-goal-wins scenario, and it didn’t take long for the bell to toll on the Bulls’ chances for a win. Kyle Wendorf’s initial shot in front of the net was knocked down, but Jordan Cooper pulled the rebound out of a crowd, and sneaked it back to Toll at the edge of the right-side faceoff circle. The St. Paul native did the rest, with a delayed wrister that beat Meyers and gave the WarHawks only their third win in series history against the Bulls, and first since their move to Willmar this season.
“We were buzzing last weekend and thought it would go into this weekend,” said McKinnon. “We came out a bit slow and had the lead. We should have buried a couple more here and there, but things just don’t go your way sometimes. We’ll come back tomorrow and hopefully come out a lot stronger.”
The visitors held a 29-15 shots-on-goal edge at the end of the second period, and the WarHawks were never able to catch back up. Shane Bernhardson (Apple Valley, Minn./North Iowa Bulls) was the only North Iowa player to finish with a multi-point outing, tacking a pair of assists on in a losing effort. Ewald and Oelkers each had a goal and an assist in the victory.
Meyers stopped 29 of the 33 shots he faced, falling to 11-4-2 on the season. Cathcart’s overtime win will put him at 5-7-1 heading into Saturday’s rematch. The win, coupled with a New Ulm loss to Granite City, puts Willmar back within six points of the Steel for the fourth and final playoff spot in the West Division. The final game in the season series between the Bulls and WarHawks is set for 7:10 p.m. Saturday night, back at the Willmar Civic Center. All Bulls games, home and away, are streamed live on HockeyTV – Bulls home games and select road games are also audio-streamed on Mixlr.