By Jeremy Koenigs
The North Iowa Bulls had a little bit of luck on their side Saturday at the North Iowa Ice Arena.
Matt Kroska’s shootout goal proved to be the difference after North Iowa let a 2-0 lead slip away in a 3-2 victory over the Twin City Steel in NA3HL West Division action.
“Up 2-0 in the third we felt good about our chances,” North Iowa coach Todd Sanden said. “Their goaltender was by far their best player on the ice and he certainly frustrated our guys,” Sanden said.
Despite peppering Twin City goaltender Garret Patrick with 11 shots on goal in the opening period, the Bulls were unable to find the back of the net.
“Their goaltender was by far their best player on the ice and he certainly frustrated our guys,” Sanden said. “We had so many good looks at the net that he stopped. That guy gave them a chance to win this game.”
Patrick held the Bulls (23-2-1-1) scoreless over the first half of the game before allowing two second-period goals.
Tony Paulson got North Iowa on the board after he was able to corral a long pass from Connor Langfield, slipping the puck past Patrick.
“That was a beautiful pass, one of the best I’ve seen,” Paulson said. “I wanted to reward him by going backdoor and giving it back to him but the defense took it away.”
Paulson, who has seven goals and 19 assists in 16 games for the Bulls, earned the praise of Sanden.
“Tony’s been really good for us,” Sanden said. “He’s been so consistent.”
Patrick Sivets, who leads the Bulls in points, added to his team lead with his 23rd goal of the season less than three minutes later as North Iowa took a 2-0 lead into the second intermission.
However, the two-goal lead wasn’t enough as Tom Bartel led the Steel comeback, scoring twice in less than three minutes in the third period.