Bruins score early, but North Iowa rallies to sweep weekend series
Sutter Muzzatti score twice and Austin outshot North Iowa 34-22, but the Bulls took advantage of more of their chances in a 5-3 North American Hockey League win on Saturday.
MASON CITY, Iowa -- The Austin Bruins scored in the first 85 seconds of the first and second periods here Saturday.
The Bruins couldn't hold that momentum, though, ultimately falling 5-3 to the North Iowa Bulls.
The loss dropped Austin out of first place in the North American Hockey League Central Division. The Bruins (11-5-3 overall) are now one point back of North Iowa (12-4-2) atop the division.
Sutter Muzzatti, who on Wednesday signed his National Letter of Intent to play college hockey at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y., scored his fifth goal of the season just 33 seconds into Saturday's game. It marked his 17th point of the season. Carson Riddle and Xavier Jean-Louis assisted on the goal that made it 1-0.
Austin's lead was short-lived, though. Carter Rapalje scored three minutes later for North Iowa to make it 1-1, then Hunter Bulger added a goal with 3:21 to go in the first period to give the Bulls a 2-1 lead after one.
Austin struck quickly again in the second period, as Jens Richards scored his team-leading 12th goal of the year 1:20 into the period. That tied the score 2-2, but just five minutes later Byron Hartley scored to put the Bulls up for good. Hartley added his second of the game just three minutes later to make it 4-2.
Muzzatti notched his second goal of the game and 18th point of the year with 1:13 to play in the second, pulling Austin within 4-3.
That's how the score remained throughout the third, until Rapalje added an empty net goal for the Bulls to seal the win and the weekend sweep with 1:42 remaining.
Hudson Hodges got the start in goal and stopped 17 of the 21 shots he faced for the Bruins, who outshot the Bulls 34-22.
North Iowa goalie Hunter Garvey made 31 saves in the win.
Austin is back in action next Friday and Saturday, when it hosts the Minot Minotauros at 7 p.m. both nights at Riverside Arena.