WAUSAU, Wis. – As the Bulls returned to the ice over the holiday weekend Friday night, North Iowa had plenty to be thankful for in their first visit to Marathon Park Arena. Todd Sanden’s team tossed 55 shots at the Wausau net in a 5-1 victory, the Bulls’ first in the series since the RiverWolves departed the Chicago area after the 2016-17 season.
After a relatively benign first period, the pace of the offenses picked up significantly in the final 40 minutes. The Bulls put up 10 shots against Wausau’s six in the opening period, but the teams combined for 44 shots in the middle stanza, and another 36 in the last.
After 22 scoreless games in a row, Dayton Honkanen (New Brighton, Minn./North Iowa Bulls) finally broke through by putting one in the net with just 32 seconds remaining before the intermission.
Mitch Dolter (Faribault, Minn./North Iowa Bulls) and Daniel Sandvig (Burnsville, Minn./Burnsville H.S.) added to the lead in the first six minutes of the second period – Dolter made his mark just 42 seconds out of the locker room, followed by Sandvig’s goal just five minutes later.
Assists on Sandvig’s goal went to Lucas McKinnon (Chapin, Iowa/North Iowa Bulls) and Jarod Blackowiak (Eden Prairie, Minn./Austin Bruins). Cameron Fagerlee (St. Anthony, Minn./Totino-Grace H.S.) had originally been credited with an assist on the play, but his assist was later overturned and awarded to Blackowiak. The first-year Bulls forward would end up without a point in the game, his first such game in 19 appearances in a Bulls uniform.
Owen Routheut broke the seal on the North Iowa net with 4:25 left in the second period, but a two-goal margin was as close as Wausau would get the rest of the night. Jake Joyaux (Bloomingdale, Ill./North Iowa Bulls) pushed the lead back to three at the 6:50 mark of the third period. Ryan Kranz (Lino Lakes, Minn./Centennial H.S.) closed out the scoring with his second goal of the year, just 1:50 before the game’s final horn.
The RiverWolves got four chances on the man-advantage for the night, and the Bulls got two of their own, but neither team’s power-play unit was able to make much of a name for itself in the contest.
North Iowa gave Henry Baribeau plenty of work, with Wausau’s netminder making 50 saves in the teams’ first-ever meeting. Drew Scites (Plymouth, Minn./North Iowa Bulls) made 40 stops on 41 Wausau chances, setting a new career high and winning his seventh straight decision.
The Bulls and RiverWolves will face off again Saturday night, with a 7:10 p.m. faceoff in Wausau. All Bulls games, home and away, are streamed live on HockeyTV. For advance tickets to any future North Iowa Bulls home game, click here.