ABERDEEN, S.D. – North Iowa got within 2:33 of its second road win against the Aberdeen Wings in three weeks, but Cade Neilson netted an equalizer and followed it up with a game-winner at the 43-second mark of overtime to give the Wings a 4-3 victory over the Bulls Friday at the Odde Ice Center. The Bulls were still able to take a standings point out of the game, and celebrated a milestone night for forward Jack Campion (Crystal, Minn./Mason City Toros), who picked up his 100th career junior point in the contest.
The teams started the night on an incredible pace before settling in after the opening minutes – just 42 seconds into the contest, Seamus Campbell grabbed a loose puck in the right-wing faceoff circle, sliding a backdoor pass to Kyle Gaffney in front of the net. His one-timer to the right of North Iowa goaltender Kyle Kozma (Vaughan, Ontario/Minnesota Magicians) found the back of the net for the game’s opening marker.
The Bulls got the game back to even at 2:28 of the first period, when Michael Mesic (Plymouth, Mich./Honeybaked 16U) forced a turnover in the Wings’ end and turned it into a 2-on-1 – Campion took his pass from the right-wing boards and snapped it past Greg Orosz to square the game at 1-1.
The tie game lasted barely two minutes – Aberdeen snagged another go-ahead goal at the 4:32 mark, when Parks Wallace sprang a pass ahead to Campbell coming through neutral ice. Campbell outran two Bulls defenders and slid the puck through Kozma to take the lead back going to the second period.
The Wings enjoyed a 13-4 shots-on-goal advantage in the first period as well, but the one-goal lead was short-lived coming out of the locker room – just 47 seconds out of the break, North Iowa tied the game when Jake LaRusso (Colts Neck, N.J./New Jersey Titans) threaded a pass to Hunter Bulger (St. Louis, Mo./St. Louis Blues AAA) coming into the Wings’ zone, and Bulger snapped the puck into the upper half of the net to tie the game at 2-2.
Campion would reach the milestone on the Bulls’ go-ahead goal, winning the rebound on the end boards after sending a shot over the Aberdeen net and off the glass. With 1:12 remaining, he found Mesic along the wall, who found Byron Hartley (Philadelphia, Pa./Philly Little Flyers 18U) out front for a setup pass, and his one-timer beat Orosz to give North Iowa its first lead of the night.
The Bulls held the lead into the waning minutes, but Neilson gathered up a freak turnover in front of the net and slipped it through to tie the game. Aberdeen picked up the only two shots on net in overtime, and Neilson waited out a sliding block attempt from Sean Vlasich (Upper Saddle River, N.J./Amarillo Bulls) before walking in front and slinging home the overtime winner.
“It stung a bit, but I think we played a really good game,” said Campion. “We have a banged-up lineup, so to do what we did tonight with that kind of lineup is really promising. When we get all of our guys back, we’re going to be scary.”
The Bulls dressed just 16 skaters, still awaiting the return of several players to the lineup following injuries and the NAHL’s trade and roster deadline on Thursday.
Both penalty-killing units were perfect in the contest, with North Iowa wiping out all four Wings power plays, while the top-ranked Aberdeen penalty kill went 3-for-3 against the Bulls’ power play unit. Kozma took the overtime loss, making 37 saves against his former teammates, while Orosz earned the win with 26 saves against the Bulls.
Campbell had a goal and an assist alongside Neilson’s two goals for Aberdeen. Campion finished with a goal and an assist to highlight the offense for North Iowa, becoming the 17th North Iowa Bull to score 100 points with the organization. Hartley’s goal gave him a point in seven of his last nine outings, with more than half of his 25 points this season coming since January 14. Mesic’s two assists helped to further stretch his scoring lead for the Bulls, bumping his total to 38 points on the year.
“It feels really good to get there,” said Campion. “It took a lot of hard work, and a lot of games played, but I’m super happy and I’m excited to keep on going. It’s been a lot of fun (in the NAHL), and it’s been crazy at times. I’m super happy to be here – I’ve worked really hard to get to this spot, so it’s paying off for sure.”
Aberdeen earned its seventh win in nine games against the Bulls this season, though four of those seven have come in overtime or a shootout. The Bulls slipped to 19-16-2-4 for the year, while the Wings rose to 21-17-1-2 ahead of the teams’ rematch Saturday night at the Odde Ice Center. The opening puck drop in that game is scheduled for 7:15 p.m., with live streaming coverage on HockeyTV Presented by Dakota Fix Shelter Insurance and Mixlr.
The Bulls return to home ice for a Friday/Saturday set next weekend against the Bismarck Bobcats – to purchase tickets to those games or any upcoming home games, 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 team’s social media platforms on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.
North Iowa 1 2 0 0 – 3
Aberdeen 2 0 1 1 – 4
1st Period-1, Aberdeen, Gaffney 6 (Campbell), 0:42. 2, North Iowa, Campion 2 (Mesic), 2:28. 3, Aberdeen, Campbell 14 (Wallace), 4:32. Penalties-Potter Nio (high sticking-minor), 6:22; Neilson Abd (slashing-minor), 14:11; Mexico Nio (slashing-minor), 18:21.
2nd Period-4, North Iowa, Bulger 12 (LaRusso), 0:47. 5, North Iowa, Hartley 15 (Mesic, Campion), 18:48. Penalties-Shuchart Abd (slashing-minor), 2:26.
3rd Period-6, Aberdeen, Neilson 19 17:33. Penalties-Mesic Nio (head contact-minor), 4:24; Yee Abd (boarding-minor), 6:58; Potter Nio (tripping-minor), 9:20.
OT Period-7, Aberdeen, Neilson 20 (Gilson), 0:43. Penalties-No Penalties
Shots on Goal-North Iowa 4-16-9-0-29. Aberdeen 13-12-14-2-41.
Power Play Opportunities-North Iowa 0 / 3; Aberdeen 0 / 4.
Goalies-North Iowa, Kozma 6-7-2-0 (41 shots-37 saves). Aberdeen, Orosz 6-6-1-0 (29 shots-26 saves).
Linesmen-Devin Blada, Jake Stach.