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Bulls, Lumberjacks win on Day 1 at Nationals

March 28, 2015

Tanner Skaja lead Granite City to a 3-1 win in the opening game of the Tier III Junior Nationals. Both NA3HL teams won their opening games.

North Iowa Bulls 3 vs. Northern Cyclones 1 - It was the type of tightly contested game the North Iowa Bulls expected. Their opponent, however, was of the unexpected variety. Regardless, North Iowa took a step toward capturing a national championship Friday afternoon. Goalie Chris Amsden turned away 43 of the 44 shots he faced as North Iowa opened the USA Hockey Tier III Junior Nationals with a 3-1 win over the Northern Cyclones. The Cyclones out-shot the Bulls 44-38, but it was the brilliance of Amsden that vaulted the Bulls closer to Monday’s national championship contest. “Amsden was very good. I think he was the difference,” Sanden said. “He just came up big. He made key saves.” The Bulls recorded a few key goals, too. Brett Gravelle struck first on a feed from Joe Burgmeier to give North Iowa a 1-0 lead. Northern’s Dennis Maier tied the contest at one before North Iowa’s Tyler Johnson’s scored the eventual game-winner in the second period on a wraparound. Johnny Panvica tallied an insurance goal on a powerplay in the third period to push the Bulls to 1-0 in pool play. “They are good team — about as skilled as we are, at the least,” Sanden said of Cyclones. “Both teams generated spurts and offensive chances.”
 
Granite City Lumberjacks 3 vs. Dells Ducks 1 - The Granite City Lumberjacks opened pool play in the USA Hockey Tier 3 National Junior Tournament with a 3-1 win over the Dells Ducks on Friday afternoon. It was Granite City's first win at the national tournament in three years. "I thought we gave a good team effort," Granite City head coach Brad Willner said. "Our speed really took over early on. Now we have an even bigger challenge in front of us in the next few days." The Lumberjacks will take on the Northern Cyclones of the EJHL at 5 p.m. Saturday. On Sunday, Granite City gets its biggest rival in the North Iowa Bulls. "Northern is a highly skilled team," Willner said. "They'll be physical with us. If we win Saturday, we're in the driver's seat to advance. The game against North Iowa wouldn't mean as much if we win Saturday because this is a round-robin format. Going 2-0 in pool play will help us move on. "Our guys know we have to win (Saturday)." Travis Kothenbeutel (one goal, one assist), David Kenney (one goal, one assist), and Tanner Skaja (two assists) all had two points to help the Lumberjacks over the Ducks. Jesse Garcia had 18 saves for the Lumberjacks. The Ducks outshot Granite City 32-19.
 
 
 
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