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Back to Their Winning Ways, Bulls Top Ice Hawks, 4-3

Post Game Report 2-10

MASON CITY, Iowa – As the North Iowa Bulls count down the games to the NA3HL Silver Cup Playoffs, they’re learning to embrace the concept of taking the pretty wins with the not-so-pretty wins. Friday’s game was certainly not the “belle of the ball” among the Bulls’ 28 wins this season, but the 4-3 triumph over the Rochester Ice Hawks counts all the same, and it came with some drama as well.

The first goal of the night came on a miscue just above the Ice Hawks goal line – a Rochester player looking to clear the puck from behind the net failed to do so, leaving a dribbler right out on the doorstep and allowing Sean Mallonee (Kennewick, Wash./North Iowa Bulls) to turn and whip a tough-angle shot into the net at the 7:45 mark of the game. The Bulls were just 1:08 away from getting out of the first period with a 1-0 lead when Charles Bill swatted one in from in front of the net to tie the game heading to the intermission.

It’s been a long time since Marshall Barnes (Edina, Minn.) tallied a goal for North Iowa, and Friday was his time, putting the home team back on top at 6:14 of the second period – a Nick Klishko (San Diego, Calif./Amarillo Bulls) pass off the wall at the Rochester blue line hit Barnes in stride, and he beat two defenders to the net, finishing the play with a double-deke and his first goal of 2017.

The Ice Hawks led the charge at mid-period, though, with a couple of unassisted tallies – Dylan Boysen buried one on the power play from just inside the left edge of the slot at 10:13 of the stanza, and with 5:13 remaining to the second-period break, Charles Bill tossed one through to the back of the net from the left point, giving the visitors a 3-2 lead and giving Brady Meyers (Rochester, Minn./Austin Bruins) a chance to redeem himself after being chased on New Year’s Eve in the last meeting between the teams.

He passed his latest test with flying colors, getting some well-deserved help from a defense that allowed just six shots the rest of the way, and from his forwards. With just two seconds to go before the intermission, Barnes chased down a puck behind the net and wrapped it back out to Josh Arnold (Roseville, Minn./Bismarck Bobcats) at the low edge of the slot, who batted in the one-timer to tie the game heading to the third.

Only one goal was needed to win in the third period, and that goal went to Brendan Studioso (Mukilteo, Wash./Dallas Stars Elite) – Drew Schenkenberg kicked aside Mitch Dolter‘s (Faribault, Minn./Shattuck-St Mary’s) shot, but the long rebound came right to Studioso in front, who slipped it in under Schenkenberg for the winner.

“It was great to get back in the win column,” says Studioso. “We were dominating for most of the game, we had some good hits and some good shots on net, and we were doing all the stuff that Coach [Todd Sanden] wanted us to do.”

The game ended on a chippy note, as six players picked up misconducts plus double-minor roughing penalties in a skirmish following the final horn. Meyers picked up the win in his relief stint, bumping his record to 10-4-1 for the year. Schenkenberg was saddled with the loss, dropping to 3-13-0 heading into the grudge match Saturday night at the Rochester Recreation Center. Barnes and Mallonee each finished with three points on the night, including a goal apiece.

A win for North Iowa on Saturday would sew up their second straight regular-season sweep of the Ice Hawks with just a month to go before a near-certain playoff rematch between the two squads. The opening faceoff in the Med City is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. All Bulls games, home and away, are streamed live on HockeyTV – Bulls home games and select road games are also audio-streamed on Mixlr.