AFFTON, Mo. – When North Iowa raises its 2015-16 Silver Cup championship banner at the North Iowa Ice Arena on Friday evening, they’ll also be playing to get above .500 for the season, following a split with the St. Louis Jr. Blues in Missouri over the weekend. North Iowa used a second-period barrage to win Friday’s contest by a 6-4 tally, but fell behind just 92 seconds into their Saturday matchup and dropped a 5-2 decision.
The Bulls fell behind early on Friday as well, with Sam Maddox’s one-timer tap-in getting the action started just 23 seconds into the game. Daniil Ovchinnikov dribbled one in past Roman Malkov (Moscow, Russia/Belle Tire) at the 8:58 mark, giving the Jr. Blues a two-goal lead heading to the second.
Three goals in rapid succession in the second period from Marshall Barnes (Edina, Minn./North Iowa Bulls), Kohei Sato (Nishitokio, Japan/North Iowa Bulls) and Logan Miller (Menomonie, Wis./Menomonie H.S.) put the Bulls back in the lead before the four-minute mark of the period, and with 5:08 remaining in the period, Kristian Kause (Tampere, Finland/Ilves) added a deflection goal off of a long point toss from Mike Lyons (Wheaton, Ill/North Iowa Bulls). Add an Owen Larson (Edina, Minn./North Iowa Bulls) tally with 1:52 left, and the Bulls had officially flipped the script with a 5-2 intermission lead.
Just 32 seconds into the third, Daniel Dunaway got the Blues back on the board, and Jack Hatton’s goal with 4:05 left made it a one-goal game. North Iowa defended itself from a late empty-net surge, and Barnes put the game on ice with an empty-net tally with one second remaining for a 6-4 final. Barnes picked up three points, including a pair of goals, to key the win alongside Malkov’s 33 saves.
The lead went to St. Louis early again Saturday, with Sam Maddox again providing the leverage in the opening minutes – with 1:32 gone in the game, Maddox leaned back and whipped one in from mid-slot for the opening goal of the game. Ivan Galaguzov added a goal at 12:38 of the period, but Sato struck back at 17:43 to cut the lead to one after a footrace up the right-wing boards. Daniel Dunaway returned to the score sheet with a goal at 18:27 of the period, gaining a 3-1 lead for the Jr. Blues going to the second.
Caylen Dyni’s (Fond Du Lac, Wis./Fond Du Lac H.S.) wrister at the edge of the faceoff circle got the Bulls back within a goal at the 4:17 mark of the second period, but goals from Nick Balestra and Tomas Loeffelman before the midway point of the period spelled the end of the night for the Bulls in a 5-2 loss. Brady Meyers (Rochester, Minn./Austin Bruins) dropped his first decision as a North Iowa Bull, making 28 saves in the contest.
A sweep in North Iowa’s next weekend set could keep them above .500 for awhile, as they face the Chicago Bulldogs Friday, Saturday and Sunday at the North Iowa Ice Arena in Mason City. Hockey fans can also join the Bulls at the Mason City YMCA this Sunday for the team’s annual preseason picnic from 1 to 3 p.m.