MASON CITY, Iowa – Four goals on Friday. Four goals on Saturday. Four points on the weekend.
Johnson and Johnson – both Blake and Willy – did their best to give the North Iowa Bulls a shot in the arm Saturday night against the Minot Minotauros, but fours were wild at the Mason City Arena, as Minot dealt the Bulls a 4-3 loss to close out the weekend. It was the first weekend sweep ever for the Minotauros against the Bulls, and the first for either side since the very first weekend set between the teams last October.
The visitors racked up the shots in the opening period, with Minot posting 13 of the game’s first 15 shots on net. They snagged the early lead on a shot to the back post from Nick O’Hanisain just 3:34 into the contest, but North Iowa got the equalizer with 4:30 to play in the period when Willy Johnson (Edina, Minn./Edina H.S.) found Blake Johnson (Elk River, Minn./Elk River H.S.) off the edge of the crease for a tying goal to Dane Couture’s glove side.
“It feels awesome to get the monkey off your back,” said Blake Johnson. “Hopefully, those (goals) will start flowing now.”
The second period was a stalemate – the teams combined for 16 shots on net, with none of them crossing the goal line. Only a tripping call to Mario Scalise (Chicago, Ill./Chicago Mission U18 AAA) dented the power play numbers in the middle 20 minutes.
With just over eight minutes left in the game, the floodgates opened – with Byron Hartley (Philadelphia, Pa./North Iowa Bulls) stuck in the penalty box to serve a hooking minor, O’Hanisain struck again with a top-shelf marker at the 11:49 marker to give the Minotauros the last lead they would need.
Minot added to it with a “Michigan” lacrosse-style goal from Chase LaPinta, who had also attempted the move during the second period of Friday’s contest. This time, the move paid off, giving the Minotauros the 3-1 lead with 3:49 to play.
The Bulls pushed to cut into the lead, and their pressure finally paid off with exactly a minute to go when Logan Dombrowsky’s (Stevens Point, Wis./North Iowa Bulls) short-distance chance was left in front of the net for Max Scott (San Jose, Calif./North Iowa Bulls) to jam home, cutting the Minot lead to 3-2.
With 19.9 seconds to go, Tory Lund sealed the win with an empty-net slide from the North Iowa blue line after a pass to the top of the Minot zone escaped and skittered out to neutral ice. However, the Bulls got one last marker with just five seconds to play, after Paavo Hiltunen’s (Kerava, Finland/HIFK U20) shot from the left-wing boards clipped Willy Johnson’s stick on the way to the net, beating Couture to trim the Minotauros’ final lead to 4-3.
Erik Chaffe’s (Cedar Rapids, Iowa/Mason City Toros) four-game winning streak came to an end, making 24 saves in taking his first loss as a North Iowa Bull. Couture stopped 23 North Iowa shots, earning his first North American Hockey League win after a pair of hard-luck losses, including one against North Iowa in late September.
It took until the game’s eighth power play – the sixth for Minot – before either team broke through with the extra man. Minot finished the night 1-for-6 on the power play, while the Bulls went 0-for-3 on the man-advantage.
Willy Johnson earned his first NAHL point with the assist on Blake Johnson’s first-period goal, while Blake Johnson also picked up a goal and an assist. Hunter Longhi followed up his hat trick on Friday with a pair of assists in Saturday’s game, maintaining his team-best pace with 13 points on the year. O’Hanisain’s two goals moved him to 11 points on the season, while LaPinta also ended the night with a goal and an assist.
“They’ve got some good offensive players, and they play a complete game,” said Willy Johnson. “They caught us slacking a bit, and that can cost you in this league.”
North Iowa slipped to 8-4 with the loss, while Minot’s hot streak continues, earning its fourth straight win to move to 7-4 on the season and sneak within two points of the early Central Division lead.
Up next for the Bulls is a single home contest against the St. Cloud Norsemen on Saturday night, with the opening puck drop at the Mason City Arena slated for 7:10 p.m. Live streaming coverage is available on HockeyTV Presented by Dakota Fix Shelter Insurance.
To purchase advance tickets to any upcoming North Iowa home game, call 641-423-4625 or click here. Updated news and information on Bulls hockey are always available at www.northiowabulls.com, and by following the team’s social media platforms on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.
Minot 1 0 3 – 4
North Iowa 1 0 2 – 3
1st Period-1, Minot, O’Hanisain 4 (Longhi, LaPinta), 3:37. 2, North Iowa, Johnson 1 (Johnson), 15:30. Penalties-Dadie Nio (hooking-minor), 6:06; O’Hanisain Mnt (cross checking-minor), 10:26; Baker Nio (tripping-minor), 12:41; Dadie Nio (high sticking-minor), 16:33; Heckman Nio (cross checking-minor), 19:12.
2nd Period- No Scoring.Penalties-Scalise Nio (tripping-minor), 10:18.
3rd Period-3, Minot, O’Hanisain 5 (Stachowiak, Joseph), 11:50 (PP). 4, Minot, LaPinta 2 (Longhi, Dauphinais), 16:11. 5, North Iowa, Scott 5 (Dombrowsky, Mexico), 19:01. 6, Minot, Lund 2 (Knox, Sewecke), 19:40 (EN). 7, North Iowa, Johnson 1 (Hiltunen, Johnson), 19:55. Penalties-Woogk Mnt (cross checking-minor), 2:19; Hartley Nio (hooking-minor), 10:57; O’Hanisain Mnt (holding-minor), 13:09.
Shots on Goal-Minot 14-7-7-28. North Iowa 5-9-12-26.
Power Play Opportunities-Minot 1 / 6; North Iowa 0 / 3.
Goalies-Minot, Couture 1-2-0-0 (26 shots-23 saves). North Iowa, Chaffe 4-1-0-0 (27 shots-24 saves).
Linesmen-Gerard Lamoureux, Matthew McMillen.