The Morning Skate 10-28
FRIDAY, OCT. 28 – 7:30 P.M., NORTH IOWA ICE ARENA (MASON CITY, IOWA)
SATURDAY, OCT. 29 – 7:05 P.M., ROCHESTER RECREATION CENTER (ROCHESTER, MINN.)
NORTH IOWA BULLS (12-2-0, 24 pts) (ROSTER, STATS)
vs. ROCHESTER ICE HAWKS (1-9-0, 2 pts) (ROSTER, STATS)
IN A NUTSHELL: The Bulls begin the season series against their closest division rival with a goal of extending their winning streak to a dozen games.
ALL-TIME SERIES: North Iowa leads, 8-0-0 (no games between the two in 2015-16 were decided by fewer than five goals).
LAST WEEKEND’S RECAP: The season series between the Bulls and the Chicago Bulldogs is already over, and ‘Dogs fans may not be sorry to see it go. North Iowa set a handful of NA3HL records last weekend in a three-set sweep of the Bulldogs in Romeoville, Ill. – one of them twice. An 18-1 rout started the weekend on Friday night, a game that featured a league-record 88 shots and 50 Bulls points, in addition to the record-setting 18 goals. Marshall Barnes & Owen Larson walked away with eight points apiece, including five goals for Barnes. The Bulls broke their shots record the very next night, firing 92 pucks on the Chicago net in a 17-1 win, highlighted by a second straight hat trick from Connor Clemons. Clemons would get his third hat trick of the weekend the next day in a 16-2 victory over the Bulldogs, putting him at an even nine goals for the weekend.
THIS WEEK’S PROMOTIONS: The Bulls will host “Fright Night at the Barn,” with special edition Bulls logo t-shirts for sale and special Halloween-themed contests for fans of all ages. “Blood Light” draws will also be on sale for just $2 at Friday’s game.
COVERAGE: All North Iowa Bulls games, home and away, are streamed live at HockeyTV.com. All home games and select road games are also audio-streamed for no charge through Mixlr – click the “Listen Live” link at NorthIowaBulls.com, or click here.
CONNECT FOUR: Yet again, the Bulls franchise has been honored with the NA3HL’s Bauer Central Division Star of the Week Award, and yet another Bulls forward has walked away with the hardware heading into October’s final weekend. This time around it’s Owen Larson, who picked up five goals and 10 assists last weekend with a +18 rating against the Bulldogs. His huge weekend in Illinois propelled him to the top of the team’s scoring leaderboard, with 16 goals and 37 points in just 14 appearances. Marshall Barnes also has 37 points in 14 games, but has two fewer goals than Larson. Overall, the Bulls have had five Central Division Stars of the Week in 2016-17.
BY THE NUMBERS: The totals for the defending Silver Cup champs last weekend were staggering – North Iowa outscored their hosts 51-4 in the three games and racked up 257 shots, scoring a goal every 3.5 minutes and launching a shot every 42 seconds – almost one of every five Bulls shots ended up in the back of Chicago’s net, and with 140 points for the weekend, the scoring pace was set at almost a point a minute. Connor Clemons’s nine goals (on three separate hat tricks) led the way on the Bulls’ road trip.
RIKKI DON’T LOSE THAT NUMBER: Jason Miner did something most hockey players would be hard-pressed to do once in a career with such a high uniform number, let alone twice in back-to-back games. #17 on the Bulls’ roster scored the 17th goal in both Friday and Saturday’s contests, firing one past Josh Cannon on Friday evening with 6:21 to go in the game and then sending one past Joe Timmerman on Saturday with 5:50 showing on the third-period clock.
FIRST-LINERS: Rochester’s defense will not only be tasked with slowing down one of the most prolific offensive teams in the NA3HL when they face the Bulls this weekend, they’ll have to slow down an entire line’s worth of top scorers in the league – five players on Todd Sanden’s roster have at least 25 points going into the weekend, putting them all in the 3HL’s top 20. Only the Binghamton Jr. Senators have that many scorers that high up the leaderboard. All of the top four players in plus-minus are on the Bulls’ roster as well, setting the bar at +32 to get into that elite club.
TAKE THE BULL BY THE HORNS: Getting the opening marker would be a good early goal for the Ice Hawks to chase – they have scored the first goal of a game only once this season, beating the Breezy Point North Stars 4-3 in overtime in their meeting in northern Minnesota two weeks ago. As of yet, that win accounts for the only two points on Rochester’s schedule. The Ice Hawks have also yet to out-shoot an opponent during the 2016-17 season.
VETERAN LEADERSHIP: Nick Fatis is now in his 17th season as Rochester’s head coach, including two years when the Ice Hawks were based in Le Sueur – with a young team and a new league to call home, the Ice Hawks battled through their first losing season since 2002-03, their first in the Med City. It was also their fourth in their 14-year Rochester run that the team had failed to win 40 games or more.