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North Iowa spoils Austin Bruins' Pink The Rink Night party

North Iowa used a five-minute surge late in the first period to pull away from the Austin Bruins and spoil the party on Pink The Rink Night at Riverside Arena.

Austin Bruins logo
Austin Bruins

AUSTIN — A four-minute stretch turned out to be the difference at Riverside Arena on Saturday.

The North Iowa Bulls blitzed the Austin Bruins for three goals in a span of 4 minutes, 5 seconds to pull away for a 4-2 North American Hockey League victory. The Bulls' win spoiled the Bruins' annual Pink The Rink Night, a sold-out game that sees the Riverside Arena ice tinted pink, and the Bruins wear special black-and-pink jerseys. Those jerseys were auctioned off after Saturday's game, with proceeds going to the Hormel Institute, for cancer research.

Austin took the lead just 2:51 into the game as Anthony Menghini scored for a second straight night.

But the Bruins' momentum ended there.

The Bulls' Brett Morich scored with 4:22 to play in the opening period, then on the next shift, just 8 seconds later, Hunter Bulger scored to give the Bulls a permanent lead.

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Jake LaRusso added another goal for North Iowa 3:57 after Bulger's goal, and that left the Bulls with a 3-1 lead after one.

The Bruins attempted to rally, but couldn't come all the way back. North Iowa's Justin Mexico made it 4-1 early in the second, then Walter Zacher scored his sixth goal of the season for the Bruins with 3:30 to play in the second. Austin couldn't get anything else past North Iowa goalie Kyle Kozma, though.

Kozma made 25 stops in the win, while Klayton Knapp stopped 23 shots for the Bruins.

Austin's lead atop the NAHL Central Division standings has shrunk to just two points. The Bruins (23-15-3) now have 49 points, while second-place St. Cloud (23-13-1) has 47 points — and four games in hand on Austin. Aberdeen, North Iowa and Minot are all tied for third place, six points back of the Bruins.

Austin plays home-and-home series the next two weekends with St. Cloud. The teams are scheduled to meet Friday, Feb. 11, and Saturday, Feb. 19, in Austin, and they're set to play on Saturday, Feb. 12 and Friday, Feb. 18, in St. Cloud. All four of those games are scheduled for 7 p.m. starts.

BOX SCORE: North Iowa Bulls 4, Austin Bruins 2

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