MASON CITY, Iowa – The downtown era is officially underway for hockey in Mason City.
After almost 800 junior hockey games at the Bulls’ old “Barn” at the North Iowa Events Center, and a false start last weekend after the first scheduled game at the Mason City Arena was postponed, game number one at Southbridge Mall was a rousing success for the home team.
A North Iowa-record crowd of 2,058 saw the Bulls whip past the Breezy Point North Stars by a 16-0 count, their most lopsided victory since a 16-goal victory over the Rochester Ice Hawks on December 30, 2017. That attendance also marked the largest crowd of any junior hockey game played in the state of Iowa on Friday, besting United States Hockey League contests in Dubuque, Cedar Rapids and Des Moines.
Carter Wagner (Lino Lakes, Minn./Odessa Jackalopes) christened the Bulls’ new home early, tossing one into the net from the right-wing faceoff circle just 68 seconds into the game. The two teams spent much of the first period feeling each other out, as well as the new ice surface at the Mason City Arena – however, Matt Dahlseide (Maplewood, Minn./North Iowa Bulls) walked in a chance of his own with 3:46 to go in the opening stanza for the 2-0 lead.
Breezy Point came up short on three power play chances in the opening period, but a tripping minor from Andrew Roth with 46 seconds to go in the first period set the Bulls up with their first power play of the night. Just 26 seconds out of the locker room, Harrison Stewart (Rockford, Ill./North Iowa Bulls) crept into the right-wing faceoff circle and ripped one into the top corner for the power play goal and a 3-0 lead.
It didn’t take long for the Bulls to add on to the lead – just 2:35 into the second period, a slap shot from Noah Roitman (Inver Grove Heights, Minn./Simley H.S.) from above the right-wing faceoff circle beat Griffin Foster to make it 4-0.
In a span of just 3:10, the Bulls doubled their lead – Jack Kubitz (Orono, Minn./Orono H.S.) slid a pass to the middle of the slot for Nick Bowlin (Woodbury, Minn./North Iowa Bulls) to rip past Foster for a 5-0 lead with 7:13 to go in the period. Dalton Saltness (Forest Lake, Minn./Forest Lake H.S.) dangled his way around a defender and shoved one in to make it 6-0 just 42 seconds later.
Joey Petronack (White Bear Lake, Minn./Boston Jr. Rangers) did some dangling of his own for a mid-slot goal with 5:05 remaining in the second period, and the lead hit 8-0 barely a minute later when Cam Fagerlee (St. Anthony, Minn./North Iowa Bulls) threw on a nifty move of his own, trickling one past Foster for a goal of his own.
For all of their scoring in the first 40 minutes, though, the Bulls hardly let off the gas in the third period. A stretch pass from Kubitz found Carter Eha (Bloomington, Minn./Jamestown Rebels) in a sprint up the left wing, and Eha wrapped the puck around the post to Foster’s left and dumped it into the net for a 9-0 lead.
Eha played the helper’s role on the next goal, just 28 seconds later. A pass to the doorstep found Jackson Vercellono (Laconia, N.H./St. Cloud Blizzard) at the bottom corner of the faceoff circle for the one-timer, and Vercellono buried his chance to push it to a 10-0 lead.
At long last, the Bulls finally got themselves a multi-goal outing on Saltness’s goal at the 3:31 mark – a turnover at the North Iowa blue line allowed Sean Sullivan (Middleton, Wis./Madison Capitols 18U) to carry the puck into the North Stars’ zone, and a drop pass in the middle of the slot found Saltness, who blasted it home to make it 11-0.
From virtually the same spot that he scored from to begin the game, Wagner cranked another one into the net at 4:07 of the third period for a 12-0 lead. The run continued on Ryan Hempel’s (Katy, Texas/Elliot Lake Wildcats) rebound goal from the right-wing circle at 5:37 of the period, and a far-post tally from Dahlseide at 6:19 of the third period extended the lead to 14-0.
The Bulls finally finished their scoring surge as the contest wound down, as Stewart buried a one-timer on a thread-the-needle pass from Vercellono with 6:31 to go, and Eha fired a booming slapshot in from just inside the blue line with 1:10 remaining.
Stewart set the bar for the Bulls on Friday night, with two goals and three assists, while Roitman, Eha and Kubitz picked up four points apiece. Every North Iowa player who saw the ice earned at least one point, save for Jac Triemert (Woodbury, Minn./Woodbury H.S.) and goaltender Joe Daninger (Blaine, Minn./Blaine H.S.), who did his own part with 11 saves and the shutout.
Foster made 35 saves on 45 North Iowa chances, exiting the game after Vercellono’s goal early in the third period. Jacob Mitchell played the final 17 minutes and change, making nine saves in relief. The Bulls scored on both of their power play chances in Friday night’s game, while the North Stars did not earn another man-advantage after the first period.
The Bulls improved their record to 24-4-2-0 with the win, while the North Stars fell to 7-24-1-0 as they head to New Ulm on Saturday. Saturday’s game in Mason City features two first-place teams as the Rochester Grizzlies come in to close out the Bulls’ Jersey Auction Weekend. The opening puck drop is scheduled for 7:30 p.m., with live streaming coverage on HockeyTV and free audio streaming on Mixlr.
Updated news and information on North Iowa Bulls hockey are always available at www.northiowabulls.com, and by following the team on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube. To purchase advance tickets to upcoming Bulls home games, call 641-423-4625 or click here.
Breezy Point 0 0 0 – 0
North Iowa 2 6 8 – 16
1st Period-1, North Iowa, Wagner 11 (Roo), 1:08. 2, North Iowa, Dahlseide 15 (Stewart, Daly), 16:14. Penalties-Petronack Nio (checking from behind-minor), 7:55; Dahlseide Nio (slashing-minor), 8:10; Chivers Bzp (hooking-minor), 15:14; Fagerlee Nio (roughing-minor), 15:14; Petronack Nio (tripping-minor), 17:08; Roth Bzp (tripping-minor), 19:14.
2nd Period-3, North Iowa, Stewart 6 (Nauss, Fagerlee), 0:26 (PP). 4, North Iowa, Roitman 3 (Eha, Kubitz), 2:35. 5, North Iowa, Bowlin 9 (Kubitz, Roitman), 12:47. 6, North Iowa, Saltness 6 (Sullivan, Stewart), 13:29. 7, North Iowa, Petronack 3 (Roo), 14:55. 8, North Iowa, Fagerlee 16 (Daly, Roitman), 15:57. Penalties-No Penalties
3rd Period-9, North Iowa, Eha 2 (Kubitz, Roitman), 2:20. 10, North Iowa, Vercellono 7 (Eha, Kubitz), 2:48. 11, North Iowa, Saltness 7 (Sullivan, Aguilera), 3:31. 12, North Iowa, Wagner 12 (Saltness, Roo), 4:07. 13, North Iowa, Hempel 9 (Nauss, Isogai), 5:37. 14, North Iowa, Dahlseide 16 (Fagerlee, Daly), 6:19. 15, North Iowa, Stewart 7 (Vercellono, Nauss), 13:29 (PP). 16, North Iowa, Eha 3 (Aguilera, Stewart), 18:50. Penalties-Kingery Bzp (tripping-minor), 12:37.
Shots on Goal-Breezy Point 4-4-3-11. North Iowa 19-21-20-60.
Power Play Opportunities-Breezy Point 0 / 3; North Iowa 2 / 2.
Goalies-Breezy Point, Foster 4-15-0-0 (45 shots-35 saves); Mitchell 2-2-0-0 (15 shots-9 saves). North Iowa, Daninger 6-0-0-0 (11 shots-11 saves).
Linesmen-Phillip Kasko, Aaron Mostrom.