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North Iowa Bulls leave Alexandria unbeaten

Joe Anderson (front) fights for the puck against North Iowa’s Matthew Kaitchuck during Friday night’s game between the two NA3HL West Division rivals. Anderson had five points over the weekend, but the Blizzard came up just short in both games as the Bulls moved to 14-0. (Blaze Fugina/Echo Press)

The Blizzard knew it needed to play at the top of its game to pick up a win over the weekend with undefeated North Iowa coming into town.

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Alexandria came close in both contests, but North Iowa prevailed with a 7-5 win on Friday and a 3-2 victory on Saturday. Alexandria had third-period ties in both games but could not keep North Iowa from netting game-winning goals.

On Friday, North Iowa held a 5-3 lead over the Blizzard heading into the third period. But two goals by Joe Anderson in a span of four minutes tied the game 5-5. North Iowa responded, however, as Richie Marenis scored his third goal of the game on a power play with only five minutes remaining. The Bulls then added an empty net goal for a 7-5 victory.

The game on Saturday was a similar story as the Blizzard held a 2-0 lead early in the second period. Anderson scored in the first period and Danny Pelzer added a power play goal in the second. But North Iowa responded with two goals to tie the game 2-2 heading into the third.

North Iowa’s Logan Murphy then untied the game in the third and they held on to sweep the Blizzard and keep their season-long winning streak alive.

Anderson led the Blizzard over the weekend series with three goals and two assists. Ian Ecklund also picked up five assists on the weekend, while netting one goal.

Head coach Jeff Crouse said Anderson was battling an illness in the game on Friday, which made his game-tying goals even more impressive. Anderson is now tied for third among the NA3HL goal leaders with 15 in only nine games this season.

“He’s a warrior,” Crouse said. “He put it all on the line. He had the garbage can on the bench and he was still going out there every shift.”

Despite losing both games in the series, the Blizzard still feel they can match the offense play of North Iowa. Ecklund said they were one defensive stop away from sending the game to overtime on Friday.

“I think we can beat them any time we play them,” he said. “We just have to come to play every night.”

The Blizzard seemed to come out with a goal to play a physical game against North Iowa. That was a goal for the Blizzard as Alexandria tried to slow down a team with plenty of offensive weapons.

“You’ve got to body those guys,” Crouse said. “They’re skilled guys, they try to beat you one-on-one so you’ve got to be physical and you’ve got to play the body.

The two losses now drop the Blizzard to 9-5-0 this season. They have had plenty of wins themselves, but now trail North Iowa by 10 points and Granite City by 14 points in the NA3HL West Division standings.

They will have plenty of opportunities to close the gap this season, including in a North Iowa rematch on Saturday, November 30 in Alexandria. The Blizzard enjoy having the opportunity to play tough teams in the division early in the season.

“It’s always nice to play a good team early,” Anderson said. “We know we can play with any team.”


ALEXANDRIA 1 1 0 – 2

SHOTS – NORTH IOWA – 9, 12, 13 – 34; ALEXANDRIA 11 8 11 – 30

SCORING – FIRST PERIOD – Alexandria – Joe Anderson (Ian Ecklund, Bo Gronseth), 8:29

SECOND PERIOD – Alexandria – Danny Pelzer (PP) (Zach Kihle, Ian Ecklund), 5:03; North Iowa – Dylan Zins (Brandon Anderson, Matthew Kaitchuck), 11:00; North Iowa – Timothy Santopoalo (Matt Kroska, Kyle Krueger), 16:00

THIRD PERIOD – North Iowa – Logan Murphy (Ron Lindgren, Santopoalo)

GOALTENDING – NORTH IOWA – Chris Amsden – W, 29 saves on 27 shots; ALEXANDRIA – Evan Bisek – L, 33 saves on 36 shots

NORTH IOWA 4 1 2 – 7

ALEXANDRIA 2 1 2 – 5

SHOTS – NORTH IOWA – 9, 12, 13 – 34; ALEXANDRIA – 11, 8, 11 – 30

SCORING – FIRST PERIOD – Alexandria – Ecklund (Anderson, Gronseth), 3:28; North Iowa – Murphy (PP) (Lindgren, Kroska), 5:08; North Iowa – Richie Marenis (SH) (Kroska), 7:33; North Iowa – Kroska (Lindgren), 9:49; Alexandria – Nate Mettenburg (Bryce Mitzel, Jody Randall), 10:13; North Iowa – Marenis (Santopoalo, Lindgren), 12:09

SECOND PERIOD – North Iowa – Santopoalo (Kaitchuck), 15:11; Alexandria – Jake Maxson (Ecklund, Anderson), 15:43

THIRD PERIOD – Alexandria – Anderson (PP) (Aaron Ryback, Ecklund), 3:23; Alexandria - Anderson (Ecklund, Gronseth), 6:54; North Iowa – Marenis (PP) (Santopoalo, Kroska), 15:06; Kroska (EN) (Lindgren, Santopoalo), 19:57

GOALTENDING – NORTH IOWA – Jared Schletty – W, 25 saves on 30 shots; ALEXANDRIA – Bisek, 27 saves on 33 shots

Blaze Fugina

Blaze Fugina is the sports editor of the Woodbury and South Washington County Bulletin newspapers. Previously, Blaze worked as a sports editor for the Pierce County Herald and a sports reporter for the Alexandria Echo Press. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls in May of 2011. You can follow Blaze on Twitter at @BlazeFugina.

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