MASON CITY — The North Iowa Bulls have always been at their best when they’re the ones dictating the pace of play.
On Saturday night with former West Division rival Alexandria in town, the Blizzard were able to keep up with the blistering pace set by the Bulls in the shot department. But it was a little bit too much North Iowa for Alexandria to handle as the Bulls took home a 6-1 victory to earn the weekend sweep. It was the Bulls’ sixth straight win.
“Our depth showed up again and we got scoring from all four lines, which is the way we like to do it,” North Iowa coach Todd Sanden said. “It’s just showing up and the kids wanted to work hard today.”
What Sanden was most impressed on this night was the play of Colin Cain in goal. The Bulls’ top goalie this season put forth one of his best efforts of the season with 39 saves on 40 shots.
It was a stretch at the start of the third period that showed just how much Cain was feeling it.
Alexandria started the period with a 5-on-3 advantage, and with the two-man advantage, the Blizzard peppered Cain with shot after shot. Cain stood tall through the barrage only to give up Alexandria’s lone goal right at the end of the 5-on-3. He faced 11 shots in that stretch alone.
“Our team in front of me, they were doing everything. They were blocking shots … and I was seeing everything,” Cain said.
Backed by Cain, North Iowa’s offense was able to do its thing
North Iowa jumped to a 2-0 lead after a period of play after Connor Clemmons and Tyler Bump each lit the lamp for the Bulls in the opening 20 minutes.
The Bulls added to that lead in the second with goal by Bryceton Butkiewicz and Josh Arnold.
It wasn’t until the third period that Alexandria was able to put up its goal, but North Iowa responded with two more scores of its own – one by Alex Timm and the other by Brendan Studioso – to go on to the victory
The only glaring stat against the Bulls was they were outshot on the evening, but that’s a stat Sanden said he can live with due to the nature of the penalty-filled game.
Alexandria held a 40-39 shot advantage for the game.
“I think the bigger thing was how good we were on the penalty kill,” Sanden said. “You give up a lot of shots on power plays, but I think we’ve given up one (goal with a man down) in the last four games. It’s been a pretty good stretch.”
North Iowa hosts rival Granite City in a pair of game next weekend.