For the second night in a row the St. Cloud Norsemen never trailed the North Iowa Bulls, ballooned their lead to 4-1 and held on for a regulation victory, this time by a final of 4-2, to pick up their fourth victory in a row and remain perfect in four games against North Iowa this season.
Less than halfway into the first period the Norsemen threw their weight around along the defensive right side boards with Carter Bradley and Andrew Clarke fighting to get the puck up the wall and they did eventually get it to Hunter Hanson. Hason centered to Broten Sabo at neutral ice where Sabo skated over the blue line before bumping the puck to the left side and Tyler Dysart with speed. Dysart sent it out across the middle and Clarke deflected it in from the crease to put St. Cloud on top 8:14 into the game. Nolan Abraham scored a power play goal for the Bulls from the right circle at 15:16 of the first to tie the game on Teddy Bear Toss Night and was showered with stuffed animals for his effort. The Norsemen would regain the lead and for good just a minute and a half later when Duke Kiffin absorbed a big hit as he hugged where the blue line meets the bench at the left point and paid the price to keep the zone and dump the puck deep on his backhand. Nik Hong tracked it down below the goal line and threw it out front for Dysart, who snapped home a one-timer just out front of the crease at 16:47 to make it a 2-1 game going into the second.
St. Cloud would add to their lead with their second Rambow power play chance of the game when Dysart and Kade Peterson played pitch and catch down low on the right side before Peterson found Sabo atop the umbrella at the point. Sabo passed to Clarke at the left faceoff dot and Clarke sent it to the goal line and Blake Perbix. Perbix came out just enough to open up a slight angle and rifled it short side over the right shoulder of Stefan Carney at 5:17 of the period. That would be the only goal of the frame, a period St. Cloud outshot North Iowa 9 to 5 after outshooting the Bulls 9 to 7 in the opening twenty minutes.
Peterson would extend the Norsemen lead 61 seconds into the third when he made a fancy backhand pass to Perbix just inside the blueline and Perbix took it with speed up the right wing boards and fired a shot that was blocked but he was able to track down his own rebound. From the corner he hit Clarke behind the net. Clarke sent it out front on his backhand to Peterson who deposited it in beating Carney short side to make it a 4-1 lead St. Cloud wouldn’t relinquish. Former Norseman Jackson Bisson scored an unassisted short handed tally at the 4:58 mark after picking off a pass in his D zone and converting the breakaway but that’s as close as North Iowa would get with St. Cloud goalie Tomáš Boľo making 23 saves in the victory.
The Norsemen have had four regulation victories in their four meetings with North Iowa and over the weekend have leapfrogged over the Bulls in the standings, just a single point behind Bismarck with a game in hand, which they’ll use Sunday afternoon. The game will have a puck drop at 3:10 from Mason City and the game can be seen on hockeytv.com.
The next home games for St. Cloud will be this coming Friday and Saturday, February 3rd and 4th, and tickets are available at tickets.stcloudnorsemen.com.