Bruins fall short on Paint the Rink Night, night ends in on a sour note

Published 10:14 pm Saturday, February 5, 2022

The Austin Bruins got off to a slow start as they lost to the North Iowa Bulls 4-2 on Paint the Rink Pink night in Riverside Arena Friday night, but the night ended on a low note after a big night of raising funds for The Hormel Institute to fight cancer.

After Austin’s John Larkin and Carson Riddle both left the game after receiving unsportsmanlike penalties in the final 30 seconds. With less than a second left in the game, a pair of trash cans were thrown from Austin’s fan section — one was thrown into the North Iowa bench and another landed on center ice.

Austin head coach Steve Howard was quick to condemn the action.

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“We don’t like to see that stuff. I know if I’m on the road, I don’t like having fans having access to us and if they’re going to say stuff to us or throw stuff at us, you can’t do that,” Howard said. “We’ve got to treat their players and coaches with respect. Some of those guys are kids on that team. They’re 16 or 17 years old and I felt really bad. I was apologizing to them afterwards. It’s something that we can’t have and I hope that we have a little bit more respect than the visiting team.”

Walter Zacher brought Austin (23-13-1-2 overall) within 4-2 in the second period when he trickled a shot through with 4:30 left in the period and the Bruins nearly added another goal with a strong push late in the second. But neither team scored in the third period as the defenses took over.

This was Austin’s first Paint the Rink Pink game in two years as last year’s game was canceled due to COVID-19.

“We won my first three pink games and they were all great games. The last one was on an overtime game winner by Dante Sheriff,” Howard said. “There’s a lot of emotions in these games and tonight I was hoping we could get the comeback going, but unfortunately we fell short. It was great to see all of these fans out here.”

The Bulls grabbed momentum late in the first period as they scored three times in the final five minutes of the frame to go up 3-1.

“The very first goal, they beat one of our better defenseman on the wall,” Howard said. “The very next face-off, their three forwards ended up on the other side of our three forwards. Those were timely goals. Then we had three penalty kills and we got the first two, but they got the third one. Those were timely goals.”

It only took a few minutes for the Bruins to find the net as Anthony Menghini weaved his way past the defense and put one through to make it 1-0. 

Klayton Knapp had 23 saves for Austin

SCORING SUMMARY

North Iowa 3 1 0  —  4

Austin 1 1 0  —  2

First period

(A) Anthony Menghini (Ocean Wallace, Jens Richardson) 2:50

(NI) Brett Morich (Byron Hartley, Jack Mesic, 29) 15:38

(NI) Hunter Bulger (Justin Mexico, Jake LaRusso) 16:39

(NI) Larusso (Dylan Gajewski, Jack Campion) 19:43

Second period

(NI) Mexico (LaRusso) 14:57

(A) Walter Zacher (John Larkin, Wallace) (power play) 16:30

Third period

No scoring

Shots: Austin — 27; Bulls — 27

Power plays: Austin — 1-for-4; Bulls — 1-for-4