Post Game Report 2-11
ROCHESTER, Minn. – It’s been two full regular seasons since the Rochester Ice Hawks joined the NA3HL from the former Minnesota Junior Hockey League, renewing a dormant rivalry from the United States Hockey League days. In terms of wins and losses, it hasn’t been much of a rivalry, though – North Iowa capped its second straight regular-season sweep of the Ice Hawks on Saturday night with a 5-1 win over Rochester on the road, running the Bulls’ all-time record against the Med City’s junior squad to 14-0-0.
Mitch Dolter (Faribault, Minn./Shattuck-St. Mary’s) got things going early with a goal just 1:49 into the contest, walking the puck up the right-wing boards and sniping one past Drew Schenkenberg for the early lead.
Two more goals at mid-period spelled an early end to the night for Schenkenberg – a rebound from Sean Mallonee‘s (Kennewick, Wash./North Iowa Bulls) shot at the top of the right faceoff circle kicked right out to Marshall Barnes (Edina, Minn./North Iowa Bulls), who shoved one in at 9:54 of the period, and at the 10:10 mark Josh Arnold (Roseville, Minn./Bismarck Bobcats) rolled one to Brendan Studioso (Mukilteo, Wash./Dallas Stars Elite) in the slot to tap in the one-timer and chase the Ice Hawks’ starting netminder from the game.
Another North Iowa tally early in the second period put the home team in an even deeper hole – Eric Piatt (Fargo, N.D./North Iowa Bulls) found Braxton Collins (Eau Claire, Wis./Coulee Region Chill) on the edge of the slot for a goal at 4:27 of the period. Shortly afterward, though, Zach Curry notched his ninth goal of the year for the Ice Hawks’ only goal against Brady Meyers (Rochester, Minn./Austin Bruins).
The final goal for North Iowa came from Arnold atop the left faceoff circle with 6:07 remaining in the second period, with Mallonee waiting to tap in any rebound that Bailey Schmitz might have released. The third period was mostly a garden-variety 20 minutes, except for the 21-5 shot count in the Bulls’ favor.
North Iowa peppered the Rochester net with pucks over the course of the game, firing 60 shots at the Ice Hawks. Their hosts got just 18 shots on Meyers, who picked up the win on back-to-back nights for the first time in a North Iowa uniform.
“It’s nice to be in the offensive zone for most of the game,” said Arnold, who finished with a goal and an assist. “They didn’t get very many shots and we definitely had our fair share of scoring opportunities. We got done what we needed to get done. The boys came out buzzing tonight. We had our objectives tonight and we exceeded them, so I think we played well tonight.”
It’s almost assuredly not the last time these teams will meet this season, though – the two are on a collision course for a first-round matchup in the Central Division in five weeks. The schedule continues for North Iowa next Friday and Saturday with their first-ever visit to Willmar, Minnesota for a weekend set against the Willmar WarHawks. The opening faceoff both nights is set for 7:10 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.