MASON CITY, Iowa – The North Iowa Bulls’ home debut as a North American Hockey League team could not have started any better. Chris Carroll (Islip, N.Y.) opened up the party just 49 seconds in against the Aberdeen Wings on Friday, bringing a barely-settled crowd of 920 right back to its feet.
The Wings gathered themselves and climbed back from an eventual two-goal lead, though, snaring a 3-2 win over the Bulls at the Mason City Arena, spoiling the finish for the home team in the first NAHL game played in Mason City since March 25, 2010.
Carroll’s goal was a backhand shovel toward the net on a rush down the right wing, giving North Iowa the opening goal for the fourth time in five contests this season. The Bulls stretched the lead to two at the 6:34 mark, when Michael Mesic (Plymouth, Mich./Honeybaked U16 AAA) snuck one in over the right shoulder of Kyle Kozma, off of a perfectly-placed cross-ice pass from Ryan Coughlin (Charlotte, N.C./Amarillo Bulls).
Kozma was not beaten again – the Wings were able to turn the tide just 15 seconds later, when Anthony Messuri’s setup pass from below the goal line led to a Luke Amell snap from the right-wing circle that beat Cullen DeYoung (Canton, Mich./Amarillo Bulls) to his stick side. Aberdeen would tie it at 13:25 of the first period – DeYoung looked to have the puck trapped on a shot from Owen DuBois, but the puck had snuck behind him and Yee was able to bang home the second chance and tie the game.
The offenses reigned in the opening 20 minutes, but defense was the name of the game after that – the Bulls rode a 20-9 shots-on-goal advantage through the game, and would finish the night with a 35-26 margin in their favor. However, the only goal the rest of the way went to Devon Carlstrom, who scored from atop the faceoff circles with 7:17 remaining in the second period.
“They definitely carried something after that first goal,” said Carroll. “We had plenty of chances to win that game, but it didn’t go our way. We couldn’t get much generated (on the power play).”
After the initial hiccups, Kozma befuddled the North Iowa offense the rest of the way, making 33 saves for his second win of the season. DeYoung stopped 23 shots, suffering his first loss after picking up two wins at last week’s NAHL Showcase. The penalty-killing units were outstanding on the night, holding the power-play groups off the board entirely in 12 combined chances.
The win puts Aberdeen in front of North Iowa for second place in the Central Division, but the advantage may be short-lived, with the two teams set to get together again Saturday night. The opening puck drop in Mason City is slated for 7:30 p.m., with live streaming coverage on HockeyTV and Mixlr.
Single-game tickets are on sale for all North Iowa home games this regular season – to purchase advance tickets to any upcoming Bulls home game, call 641-423-4625 or click here. Updated news and information on North Iowa Bulls hockey are always available at www.northiowabulls.com, and by following the team on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.
Aberdeen 2 1 0 – 3
North Iowa 2 0 0 – 2
1st Period-1, North Iowa, Carroll 1 (Dombrowsky, Boxer), 0:49. 2, North Iowa, Mesic 2 (Coughlin, Scott), 6:34. 3, Aberdeen, Amell 1 (Messuri, Davis), 6:49. 4, Aberdeen, Yee 2 (DuBois, Brimanis), 13:25. Penalties-Galante Nio (holding-minor), 4:20; Galante Nio (head contact-minor), 15:10; Allais Abd (hooking-minor), 15:31.
2nd Period-5, Aberdeen, Carlstrom 1 (Mann, Campbell), 12:43. Penalties-Yee Abd (kneeing-minor), 7:15; Mesic Nio (tripping-minor), 7:27; Scott Nio (cross checking-minor), 8:54; Campbell Abd (interference-minor), 10:17; Messuri Abd (cross checking-minor), 13:36.
3rd Period- No Scoring.Penalties-Carlstrom Abd (hooking-minor), 3:12; Carroll Nio (tripping-minor), 5:21; Campbell Abd (roughing-minor), 7:15; Coughlin Nio (roughing-minor), 7:15; Mesic Nio (slashing-minor), 7:15; Gilson Abd (cross checking-minor), 13:00.
Shots on Goal-Aberdeen 9-6-11-26. North Iowa 20-5-10-35.
Power Play Opportunities-Aberdeen 0 / 6; North Iowa 0 / 6.
Goalies-Aberdeen, Kozma 2-1-0-0 (35 shots-33 saves). North Iowa, DeYoung 2-1-0-0 (26 shots-23 saves).
Linesmen-Ethan Fox, Reilly Hickey.