ABERDEEN, S.D. – The Aberdeen Wings needed three go-ahead goals Saturday night, but an insurance goal midway through the third period turned out to be enough separation in a 4-3 win over the North Iowa Bulls at the Odde Ice Center in a North American Hockey League Central Division matchup. Byron Hartley (Philadelphia, Pa./Philly Little Flyers 18U) added to a torrid run, netting a pair of goals for the Bulls in the loss.
The first period Saturday night followed the same pattern as Friday’s, with Aberdeen touching off a three-goal flurry and getting out of the game’s opening stanza with a big shots-on-goal advantage. This time around, though, the teams got past the midway point of the period without getting on the board – Kyle Gaffney scored the opening goal of the night for the second night in a row, taking a pass from Kevin MacKay below the goal line amid a scramble at the goal mouth and poking it through for the 1-0 lead at 10:25 of the first.
The Bulls wiped out the opening lead just 48 seconds later on a shot high in the zone from Justin Mexico (Madison Heights, Mich./Maine Nordiques 18U) – Jake LaRusso (Colts Neck, N.J./New Jersey Titans) and Hunter Bulger (St. Louis, Mo./St. Louis Blues AAA) deflected the puck in front of the net almost simultaneously, with Bulger getting the last tip to tie the game at 1-1. Two minutes later, Aberdeen regained the lead – the North Iowa defensemen were able to sweep away an initial chance in front of the net, but Devon Carlstrom banked a shot from the blue line off of a Bulls body and past Hunter Garvey (San Diego, Calif./Amarillo Bulls) to put the Wings back in front with 6:46 remaining in the period.
North Iowa evened up the game going to the second period, when Hartley walked the puck to the right-wing faceoff dot and snapped a shot through the five-hole to beat Anton Castro and tie the contest with 1:46 left on the first-period clock. Aberdeen took an 18-6 shots-on-goal margin out of the opening 20 minutes, one night after out-shooting their visitors 13-4 in the opening period.
The Wings only got one goal in the second period, but they played most of the period with the one-goal lead thanks to Owen DuBois’s goal at the 4:40 mark – DuBois drove the puck down the left wing wall before driving in front of the net, deking twice and depositing the puck past Garvey for the 3-2 lead.
Needing a goal to tie and a second goal to take the lead, North Iowa swapped goals in short order in the third period, with the Wings picking up a brief insurance marker at the 11:11 mark when Will Gilson’s wrist shot from the left-wing faceoff dot hit the back of the net for a 4-2 score. Just 16 seconds later, Hartley rattled home a shot from the edge of the slot to cut the lead to 4-3.
“[Jack Campion] made a really nice dump play, and it just wrapped around to [Michael] Mesic, who found me in the middle,” said Hartley. “I was actually going to pass it to [Campion] but I just threw it on the net, and luckily, it went in. That was a good momentum-shifter.”
After combining for a perfect 7-for-7 mark on the penalty kill on Friday, the teams totaled up another perfect mark on Saturday, holding the power play units scoreless on five chances. Gilson had the only multi-point outing for Aberdeen, picking up an assist to go with the eventual game-winning goal. Jack Campion (Crystal, Minn./Mason City Toros) earned two assists, moving his total to 102 career points after reaching the century mark in Friday’s overtime defeat.
Hartley has had a tremendous 10-game run for North Iowa, posting his fourth multi-point game since January 14 with two goals on Saturday. His recent climb up the Bulls’ scoring list has snapped him into a tie with Sean Vlasich (Upper Saddle River, N.J./Amarillo Bulls) for fifth on the team, and 15 of his 28 points this season have come over those last 10 appearances. Michael Mesic’s (Plymouth, Mich./Honeybaked 16U AAA) assist on Hartley’s third-period goal extended his team-best scoring total to 39 points, giving him at least one point in five of his last six nights.
“Playing on a line for Mike, he does pretty much everything for me,” said Hartley. “He creates a lot of space for me, and all I’ve got to do is shoot, so it’s a lot easier.”
Garvey made 34 saves in the loss, while Castro picked up the win behind 19 saves in his first outing against the Bulls. The win gives Aberdeen its fifth victory over the Bulls in six tries at the Odde Ice Center this season, and eighth win in 10 meetings overall. Four of those eight wins have come in either overtime or a shootout.
North Iowa makes a brief return to home ice on Friday and Saturday night when the Bismarck Bobcats return to Mason City, before finishing off a lengthy road swing against the Springfield Jr. Blues and the Bobcats. Friday and Saturday’s opening puck drops are both slated for 7:30 p.m. at the Mason City Arena, with live streaming coverage on HockeyTV Sponsored by Dakota Fix Shelter Insurance, and Mixlr.
To purchase advance tickets to Friday and Saturday’s home games, or any upcoming North Iowa home contest, call the Bulls Ticket Line at 641-450-0914 or click here. Updated news and information on North Iowa Bulls hockey are always available at www.northiowabulls.com, and by following the Bulls’ social media platforms on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.
North Iowa 2 0 1 – 3
Aberdeen 2 1 1 – 4
1st Period-1, Aberdeen, Gaffney 7 (MacKay, Galante), 10:25. 2, North Iowa, Bulger 13 (Mexico, LaRusso), 11:13. 3, Aberdeen, Carlstrom 3 (O’Connell, Allais), 13:14. 4, North Iowa, Hartley 16 (Campion), 18:14. Penalties-Allais Abd (hooking-minor), 7:43; Mesic Nio (roughing-minor), 15:50; MacKay Abd (roughing-minor), 15:50; Amell Abd (head contact-minor), 19:56.
2nd Period-5, Aberdeen, DuBois 7 (Gilson), 4:40. Penalties-Brophy Nio (tripping-minor), 10:34; Brophy Nio (roughing-minor), 15:13.
3rd Period-6, Aberdeen, Gilson 7 (Neilson, Kelly), 11:11. 7, North Iowa, Hartley 17 (Mesic, Campion), 11:27. Penalties-Schimizzi Abd (tripping-minor), 1:52.
Shots on Goal-North Iowa 6-7-9-22. Aberdeen 18-13-7-38.
Power Play Opportunities-North Iowa 0 / 3; Aberdeen 0 / 2.
Goalies-North Iowa, Garvey 13-13-1-4 (38 shots-34 saves). Aberdeen, Castro 2-1-0-0 (22 shots-19 saves).
Linesmen-Devin Blada, Jake Stach.