FRIDAY, SEP. 30- 7:30 P.M., NORTH IOWA ICE ARENA (MASON CITY, IOWA)
SATURDAY, OCT. 1 – 7:30 P.M., NORTH IOWA ICE ARENA (MASON CITY, IOWA)
SUNDAY, OCT. 2 – 3:00 P.M., NORTH IOWA ICE ARENA (MASON CITY, IOWA)
IN A NUTSHELL: It’s an extended celebration of North Iowa’s 2015-16 successes this weekend as the Bulls host three games this weekend against the Chicago Bulldogs and look to climb above .500 for the year.
ALL-TIME SERIES: North Iowa leads, 7-0-0 (Bulldogs outscored in six games last season, 68-2).
LAST WEEKEND’S RECAP: North Iowa came out of last weekend’s two-day visit to St. Louis with another split, coming away with a 6-4 win on Friday night, but dropping a 5-2 decision on Saturday evening. Sam Maddox got the Jr. Blues on the board early in both games, with a tap-in goal just 23 seconds into Friday’s contest and an opening tally just 92 seconds into the Saturday contest. On Friday, the Bulls ripped off five second-period goals, turning around a 2-0 deficit after the opening 20 minutes. Saturday, however, saw the Bulls get behind 2-0 before getting back within a goal twice. After Caylen Dyni’s goal at the 4:17 mark of the second period made it a 3-2 game, Nick Balestra and Tomas Loeffelman tallied back-to-back goals to send North Iowa to its second loss of the year.
THIS WEEK’S PROMOTIONS: The Bulls season gets underway this Friday with a 6 p.m. tailgate party outside the North Iowa Ice Arena, and a banner-raising ceremony at 7:15 in honor of the Bulls’ third Silver Cup and national title in four years. Hot dogs and $1 Busch Light beers highlight the promotional list for Saturday’s game.
COVERAGE: All North Iowa Bulls games, home and away, are streamed live at HockeyTV.com. Live audio for all home games and select road games is also available for no charge through Mixlr – click the “Listen Live” link at NorthIowaBulls.com, or click here.
IMPERFECT TEN: North Iowa’s first goal this Friday night (no pun intended) is to snap a streak of 10 consecutive games without the first goal – the last time the Bulls scored the opening goal of a game was in Game 1 of the Central Division finals last year against La Crosse, when Ryan Durant buried one behind Will Graves just 59 seconds into the game.
BUY OR SELL: The Chicago Bulldogs are under new ownership this season, after being purchased by the Minnesota Magicians’ ownership group during the offseason, giving the NAHL franchise a sister team in the NA3HL. Craig Sheppard is also in his first year as the Bulldogs’ head coach after recently serving as a high school coach in Bloomington, Minn. He was previously the head coach of the Edina Lakers in the former Minnesota Junior Hockey League.
FINISH STRONG: Chicago would likely rather forget its start to the 2016-17 season, following back-to-back losses to Peoria last weekend in cross-divisional play – the Mustangs racked up 66 shots in a 14-1 win on Saturday, Sept. 17, including seven goals in the third period. Chicago led 2-0 just 11 minutes into their home opener on Sunday before the Mustangs rattled off 13 unanswered goals for a 13-2 win – Peoria threw 85 shots at Bulldogs netminder Joe Timmerman.
BIG DOGS BACK IN THE HOUSE: A handful of key Bulldogs players are back in hopes of turning around the team’s fortunes after a long 2015-16 campaign. Chicago native Eric Arrigo is the leading returning scorer from last year’s group, tallying 18 points a year ago, and Bryce Freel is also back on the ice after playing 44 games for the ‘Dogs last season. The only player with multiple points in the Bulldogs’ opening weekend is a Chicago newcomer – Cody Gottfreid played every game for the Euless Jr. Stars last year, tallying five points, and picked up a pair of points against Peoria last weekend.
HIT ‘EM HARD, HIT ‘EM FAST: Putting crooked numbers on the scoreboard in short order has been a good omen for the Bulls offense this season – in North Iowa’s 4-3 comeback win at Peoria on Sep. 11, they scored three goals in the third period (and all in the span of less than six minutes) – last Friday at St. Louis the second-period turned out to be a five-goal barrage, with the first three goals coming before four minutes were off the clock.