MASON CITY | It was a sloppy start, but it was still home victory.
The North Iowa Bulls kicked off their two-day stand against the Wisconsin Whalers with an 8-5 win.
Brendan Studioso highlighted the night with a hat trick, including one short-handed goal. Studioso completed the highest scoring line including Tyler Bump and Josh Arnold, whom also accounted for two additional goals.
“Since last year we’ve been playing together,” Studioso said. “The chemistry has been great in practice we work really well together and it just carries over to the games.”
David Dolter had an instrumental impact on offense, racking up three assists. Arnold finished with two. Shane Bernhardson also had two.
“Obviously offensive catalysts tonight,” head coach Todd Sanden said. “That line they’re fast, they play heavy, they’re physical, so, I don’t think I’d want to play against them.”
The Whalers would be the first to score within the first 33 seconds of the first period. The Bulls hung tight, staying on the offensive, taking multiple shots on goal, but the first wouldn’t come until 11 minutes later. Brendan Studioso broke away from a crowd driving down the ice to sneak the puck in for a 1-1 tie.
The next goal would come on a power play after a roughing penalty on Whalers’ Hunter Huson, Tyler Bump found a shot down the middle to give the Bulls a 2-1 edge. Studioso completed the period on a slap-shot goal, hitting the top-right corner of the net, 3-1.
The Whalers scored first to start the second period 3-2 and the Bulls put themselves in danger on a big penalty.
Brandon Caudill collided head-first with a Whalers player on the defensive, sending both flat on their faces to begin the second period. Caudill stayed out for 20 minutes on a head-contact major while a five-minute power-play for the Whalers ensued with Alex Timm in the box.
But Studioso would cap off his hat trick one minute later with a short-handed goal in a crowded battle with the goalie, taking the lead 4-2.
Wisconsin answered quickly, taking advantage of the power play with a goal for a 4-3 score to stay within striking distance.
“I thought we were a little bit sloppy, especially in the D-zone,” Sanden said. “We didn’t take good enough care in the D-zone, put our goalie in some bad situations.”
The Bulls would run away with the score in the third. Arnold broke free for the first goal for a 5-3 edge and the Whalers would answer once again 5-4. Alex Timm added a score to widen the gap, 6-4. Cameron Fagerlee found himself in a battle at the goal, knocking in a 7-4 score.
Wisconsin scored its last goal short handed in between the legs of Drew Scites with six minutes left. The Bulls held their own as Dominic Skrelja knocked in the final goal on a Whalers’ power play, 8-5.
“First things first, is stay out of the box,” Studioso said. “They had like four or five goals off of power plays, which is unacceptable. If we can stay out of the penalty box we can put 8 or 9 more up.”