MASON CITY, Iowa – North Iowa had to play from behind Saturday night against the Chicago Bulldogs, even if only briefly – the Bulls had none of it Sunday, leading nearly wire-to-wire in a 12-1 rout to move to 5-2 for the season and build their first three-game winning streak of the year.
Mitch Parsons‘ (Grandville, Mich./North Iowa Bulls) toss to the net just 49 seconds into the contest found Caylen Dyni (Fond du Lac, Wisc./Fond du Lac H.S.) cleanly on the doorstep, and the starting left-winger dumped a wrist shot into the back of the net against Jacob Dittmer to open the scoring in the opening minute. Dayton Honkanen (New Brighton, Minn./Soo Eagles) earned his first goal as a Bull with 1:41 remaining in the first period, with traffic in front of the net obscuring Dittmer’s view of the shot, and the lead went to 2-0 heading to the second period.
“Our message before the game was certainly to start it with pace and get that first goal,” said head coach Todd Sanden. “Yesterday we had to come from behind, but I thought our guys were really good. We had several new combinations and we got everybody the two games we were hoping to get them this weekend, so I’m really happy with the results.”
North Iowa’s offense went on a tear in the second period, scoring six goals and ripping 27 shots at the Chicago net – the scoring started on Eric Piatt‘s (Fargo, N.D./North Iowa Bulls) first goal of the year at the five-minute mark of the period, and continued in rapid succession at 7:45 and 8:05 with goals from Sean Mallonee (Kennewick, Wash./North Iowa Bulls) and Kohei Sato (Nishitokio, Japan/North Iowa Bulls), respectively. A toss to Mallonee and some room to aim allowed the former Everett Silvertip to slip his second goal of the game into the net at 13:02 of the period, and Steven Mordini‘s (Baraboo, Wisc./Team Wisconsin) slap shot from the slot beat Dittmer high with 3:14 remaining in the second period. Lucas McKinnon (Mason City, Iowa/Appleton United H.S.) earned his first goal back on home ice with just 10 seconds left in the period as the former Mason City Mohawk built the lead to 8-1 with a period remaining.
“Luke’s a big, rugged power forward that we think can score some big goals here,” said Sanden. “He got several opportunities today in some odd-man rushes and to see him convert, and create like he did defensively, you like to see kids who are playing the game honestly and responsibly get a little bit of success.”
The third period did not get off to such a quick start, but the Bulls offense got the floodgates open again in the final minutes of the game. Josh Arnold‘s (Roseville, Minn./Casper Coyotes) break toward the net at 11:41 of the third period led to a dump-off pass to Parsons, who notched his only goal of the game on a secondary break to the net. The real flood came with just more than five minutes left, though, starting with Vinny Billing‘s (Rogers, Minn./Rogers H.S.) goal at the 14:46 mark of the period. Connor Clemons‘s (Savage, Minn./Prior Lake H.S.) goal with 3:55 remaining snuck in just as the net was coming off of its moorings after a scramble in front – after some discussion, the goal was allowed, giving the Bulls a 10-goal lead for the second night of the weekend. The final goal came just seconds later, as Clemons found Owen Larson (Edina, Minn./North Iowa Bulls) for a goal on the left post, and Larson tapped it in for the final tally with 3:24 remaining in the game.
Despite allowing a dozen goals, Dittmer handled the 60-minute siege fairly well, making 51 saves in the game. He would face nearly 50 shots in the final two periods alone. Brady Meyers (Rochester, Minn./Austin Bruins) earned his first win in net for the Bulls by holding 21 of Chicago’s 22 shots out of the net – only Jack Henneman’s goal from Steven West at the 6:35 mark of the second period kept Meyers from earning a shutout to go along with that first win. The Bulls are back in “The Barn” next Friday and Saturday night against the Wisconsin Whalers, with games both nights at 7:30 p.m. Vinnie Perricelli will have the call for both games on HockeyTV and Mixlr, starting at 7:15.