Bulls dominate Blizzard to snap unbeaten streak
The Alexandria Blizzard hadn’t played a game in nearly two weeks heading into Friday night’s matchup against the North Iowa Bulls at the Runestone Community Center.
The Blizzard had earned points in each of its last nine games. That was until the Bulls ran away with a 10-0 win in the first half of a home-and-home series.
“We had two breakdowns in the first period that led to both goals,” head coach Jeff Crouse said. “The shots were even at 14, but we trailed 3-0. Then it just snowballed from there.”
The Bulls sit at the top of the West Division with a record of 19-3-2-0. They hold an eight-point advantage over second-place Granite City and are 17 points ahead of Alexandria. On Friday night, the Bulls proved why they are one of the best teams in the NA3HL.
Sota Isogai and Matt Dahlseide each scored two goals. Former Northstar Christian Academy Knight, Jackson Vercellono, had a goal and an assist.
After the Bulls scored five second-period goals, the Blizzard trailed 8-0.
“I told the guys that we needed to get some momentum going after the second so we can feel good heading into (Saturday). We didn’t do that,” Crouse said. “The goalies weren’t stopping shots, and we didn’t do anything to help them. (North Iowa) is playing well right now. There’s a reason why they are leading the division by a large margin.”
Dysen Skinner has been a thorn in the side of the Blizzard over the last two seasons. The Blizzard mustered up chances to score early on, but Skinner kept them off the score sheet. He made 30 saves in the shutout.
Bailey Rosch started in net for Alexandria before being pulled midway through the second period after the fourth goal. Ville Hyttinen allowed the remaining six on 28 shots.
The Blizzard is looking to put its forgettable performance in the past before Saturday night’s road game in North Iowa. Crouse is excited to get another crack at the top dog in the division.
“I’m glad we get to see them again because we need to figure out how to beat them,” he said. “The last time we were down there, we had some success in taking them to overtime. We have to put the hard hats on and go back to work.”
The night before Thanksgiving, the Blizzard was scheduled to host New Ulm (9-7-2-1). Inclimate weather postponed the game to a future date. Crouse believes that the extended time off led to the slow start.
“It’s not easy to come back and play a game against a top team after almost two weeks,” he said. “I thought we practiced well, but they came out faster and stronger than us. They were playing games against good teams. It’s how the schedule worked out, and there’s nothing we can do about it.”
The Blizzard welcomed two new players to its roster on Friday. Coincidentally, they came from North Iowa. Evan Sivets and Austin McNeil look to be a factor for the Blizzard moving forward.
“I’m happy with the transaction we made,” Crouse said. “There are some chemistry things we need to iron out, but I think they fit in well with these guys.”
Forgettable nights happen for every hockey team. Crouse hopes his guys can move on from this game and get to work on a new point streak.
“It just happens,” he said. “Does it suck? Yeah, it does. Give credit to them. They came out hard in our building and took it to us. We’ll regroup and get after it tomorrow.”