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Bullieve it! North Iowa captures second National title in three years

March 30, 2015
By Jared Patterson, Glove Gazette
 
Just Bull-ieve it. For the second time in three years, Mason City, Iowa is title town.
 
It’s hard to script it any better than this and hometown kid scoring the championship-winning goal.
 
The fan favorite and the team’s enforcer giving North Iowa a lead after nearly 48 minutes of scoreless hockey.
 
The goalie who was in this same game last year and was seeking redemption and found it.
 
It added up to another unforgettable championship moment for the NA3HL's North Iowa Bulls.
 
Connor Bump gave North Iowa a 1-0 lead before the Northern Cyclones knotted the game shortly after. But then it was Joe Burgmeier, one of the area’s own, scoring what turned out to be the title-winning goal in a 2-1 triumph over the Cyclones on Monday as the Bulls won the USA Hockey Tier III Junior Nationals.
 
“It’s a moment I will never forget,” said Burgmeier, a Newman Cathoic graduate. “I’m the happiest guy in the world. I couldn’t be more happy to do this with this group of guys.”
 
When the clock struck zero after North Iowa killed off Northern’s last-ditch effort with an extra attacker, coach Todd Sanden and the rest of the North Iowa staff shared an embrace.
 
“You turn and look at these kids and it’s just amazing,” Sanden said.
 
The Bulls – who opened the national tournament with a 3-1 victory over the Cyclones on Friday, followed by a 2-1 victory over the Dells Ducks on Saturday and a 4-3 loss to NA3HL West Division rival Granite City on Sunday – were in a scoreless contest through two periods with the national championship trophy at stake.
 
Bump, a fan favorite in Mason City for his physical play, broke the scoring drought 7 minutes, 53 seconds into the third period on an assist from Brett Gravelle when he banged home a shot off the post.
 
However, the Cyclones quickly answered with a power-play goal from Dylan Bengston with 10:47 remaining in regulation before Burgmeier gave North Iowa the edge again that it wouldn’t relinquish.
 
With 10:06 remaining, Burgmeier scored on an assist from Johnny Panvica for a 2-1 lead.
 
Meanwhile, North Iowa goaltender Chris Amsden shut the door down the stretch as the 6-foot-4 native of St. Peter, Minnesota, stopped 45 shots.
 
Amsden was in goal last season for North Iowa when the Bulls fell 4-1 to the Boston Junior Bruins in the championship game.
 
“Chris just came in and did the job again,” Sanden said.
 
Sanden said despite the game remaining scoreless through two periods that his team was gaining an advantage.
 
“It looked like they were getting more fatigued,” Sanden said. “That’s why we roll four lines.”
 
One of the more crucial points in the contest occurred when North Iowa killed off a 5-minute major to keep the game scoreless.
 
“The Cyclones, they played a hell of a game. Chris held them back the whole game. He’s been huge for us down the stretch.”
 
Burgmeier, who had the option to play football, baseball or hockey out of high school, said his game-winning goal “was bound to happen. We never gave up. We came up big so many times all season.”
 
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