Post Game Report 3-29
ROMEOVILLE, Ill. – The Yellowstone Quake won their first-ever game at the NA3HL Silver Cup national championship tournament Wednesday evening, and they knocked off the defending champs to do it. A pair of goals from Tony Dahlberg bookended a 4-2 win over the North Iowa Bulls, after Yellowstone’s 0-3 turn last year in their first-ever trip to the tourney at Canlan Ice Sports in Chicagoland.
The Bulls almost killed off their first penalty of the night, with Dayton Honkanen (New Brighton, Minn./Soo Eagles) heading to the box early in the game on a hooking penalty. At 6:08, though, the Quake struck first – at the top of the North Iowa slot, Jesse Lawman’s pass found Dahlberg just as he stumbled to the ice, and a long-range rip from Dahlberg found its way past Drew Scites (Plymouth, Minn./Prior Lake H.S.) for the opening goal of the night.
The lead stayed at 1-0 heading to the second, and Marshall Barnes (Edina, Minn./North Iowa Bulls) began the next session with a boarding penalty after being whistled for a hard hit in the corner at the 20-minute mark of the first. This time, though, it was North Iowa scoring on the Quake power-play – Brendan Studioso (Mukilteo, Wash./Dallas Stars Elite) raced in against Nick Ottenbacher and beat the Quake netminder low along the ice for the tying goal just 48 seconds into the period.
The lead would change hands at the 14:36 mark, thanks to Connor Clemons (Savage, Minn./Prior Lake, Minn.) – Honkanen’s initial shot on a Bulls power play would be kicked out front to Clemons, who buried the rebound chance to take a 2-1 lead. That lead would last barely more than a minute, as Curt Greenbush’s snipe from the left side with 4:08 remaining in the period tied the game at 2-2.
The next goal would likely decide the contest coming out for the third period, and that it did – a lucky bounce off of a blocked shot in front of Scites caught Pablo Pantoja near the net, who put the eventual winner away just 3:21 into the third period.
North Iowa would play much of the third period from behind, but with Scites committed to a sharp-angle shot, Dahlberg struck again from the left-wing faceoff circle with 7:38 to play, delivering what would prove to be the dagger to the Bulls’ chances.
“We had some good chances there around the net, and we just didn’t get our bounces,” said Shane Bernhardson (Apple Valley, Minn./North Iowa Bulls). “On a couple of goals against, we just didn’t take care of the puck and get it out of our zone while we had the chance. It kind of bit us there [in the third period] and it was the story of the game.”
Scites stopped 21 of Yellowstone’s 25 shots, while Ottenbacher endured 33 North Iowa shots for his fifth win of the postseason. His 31 saves gave the Quake a major edge moving forward, with a chance to nearly seal a semifinal bid Thursday evening with a win against the Long Beach (N.Y.) Sharks. The good news for the Bulls in the game, though, was the Clemons-Studioso connection – this one was the sixth in a row that at least one of the two has picked up a goal for the defending 3HL champions.
North Iowa, however, finds itself in a virtual must-win on Thursday against the highest-scoring and most red-hot team in the NA3HL. The Binghamton Jr. Senators will look for their 29th win in a row as they take on the Bulls after an 8-1 win Wednesday against the Sharks. The opening faceoff is set for 7:30 p.m. at Canlan Ice Sports in Romeoville. All Silver Cup national tournament games are streamed live on HockeyTV.