North Iowa goalie Skinner makes NCAA commitment
April 3, 2020
The North Iowa Bulls, proud members of the North American 3 Hockey League (NA3HL), are excited to announce that alumnus and current Minnesota Magicians goaltender Dysen Skinner has committed to play NCAA Division III hockey for the University of Wisconsin-River Falls, an NCAA Division III institution and member of the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WIAC). He becomes the fourth player with Bulls ties to land in the UWRF program, and will join former Bulls Josh Arnold and Dayton Honkanen when he arrives on campus at the start of the 2020-21 academic year.
The Billings, Montana native began his run up the "Ladder of Development" in the NAPHL with the Sioux Falls Jr. Stampede before quickly asserting himself as the Bulls’ go-to goaltender during his rookie season in 2018-19. His first season with the Bulls ended with 18 wins, a 2.44 goals-against average and a .913 save percentage, plus all five of the Bulls’ postseason wins on the way to a Fraser Cup semifinal appearance.
The 2019-20 season saw just as rapid a start, with two more shutouts among his 10-2-2-0 record. With Samuel Vyletelka playing for his native Slovakia in the World Junior Championships in mid-December, Minnesota Magicians head coach/general manager A.J. Bucchino made the call to bring Skinner to the NAHL.
The Billings, Montana native quickly impressed, making 31 saves for the win in his NAHL debut against the Springfield Jr. Blues on December 19. By the time Vyletelka returned, Skinner had landed the team’s top job, earning 12 of the Magicians’ last 13 wins. Only a loss to Springfield in his junior finale would trip him up, ending a string of five straight wins and 10 of 12 down the stretch. The final three wins landed him the league’s Midwest Division Star of the Week award earlier this month.
His final numbers - a 12-7-2-0 record, 2.86 goals-against average and .914 save percentage, were more than enough to get the attention of UW-River Falls head coach Steve Freeman, who coached Bucchino during his college career and brought him back as an assistant coach after a brief goaltending stint in the pros.
“There’s an opportunity at River Falls with a young team with high potential, and amazing facilities right on campus,” said Skinner. “I’m excited to be part of a winning culture.”
Freeman has done as much as anyone to build that winning culture, as the Falcons’ all-time winningest coach. He earned his 400th victory this past season, and led the Falcons to seven wins against WIAC competition with a group that included 17 underclassmen.
More than 140 players have moved on to play college hockey after suiting up for the Bulls, including more than 70 who made their commitments while on the Bulls’ roster.