MASON CITY — The North Iowa Bulls’ home winning streak is over.
New Ulm scored three unanswered goals as the Steel picked up a rare 6-4 NA3HL win at the North Iowa Ice Arena on Friday.
“We have to play these guys again tomorrow at their place so we can’t let this into four points that get away,” North Iowa coach Todd Sanden said. “We have to put this one behind us.”
North Iowa (26-6-0-1) — which lost for the first time in 14 games on its home ice this season — got off to a horrible start as Nicholas Campbell scored the first of three first-period goals for the Steel (19-13-0-1) with 16:21 remaining in the period.
Connor Clemons tied the score at 1-1 with a power-play goal on a beautiful pass from Tyler Bump but the Steel received a power-play tally of their own from Sam Wenner with 8:49 left and Alex Nagel pushed the New Ulm lead to 3-1 with 3:16 remaining in the first period.
Wenner’s goal came on a pass from Bennett Witta after it appeared North Iowa goaltender Drew Scites — who tallied 24 saves — was interfered with, leading to an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on the Bulls’ bench as coach Sanden opened the door to the bench and slammed it shut.
“We just can’t take bad penalties and doing what I did is not something that I want to be doing as a head coach,” Sanden said. “I was trying to get our guys going there.”
North Iowa heard the message loud and clear as the Bulls overcame three power-play opportunities by New Ulm in the second half of the period and used two goals 80 seconds apart from Bump and Mitch Parsons the first half of the second period to tie the game.
“We have the ability to score like that but I don’t think we have the mental capacity right now to just play smart,” Sanden said. “We didn’t do a very good job understanding the team we were playing against and it cost us.”
The teams headed into the second intermission deadlocked at 3-3 but North Iowa started the third period with a two-man advantage and the Bulls’ constant pressure on Nathan Siclovan — who finished with 28 saves — led to a power-play goal from Horka Sekesi 1:38 into the period.
However, the lead would be short-lived as Fritz Belisle tied the game at 4-4 with 15:25 remaining, the start of a three-goal period by New Ulm that also included a breakaway goal from Nagel and an empty-net goal from Belisle.
The finish by his team left Sanden frustrated.
“After we fought our way back I thought we got greedy,” Sanden said. “We had guys chasing goals instead of playing the game the right way. We can’t have that.”