MASON CITY, Iowa – The North Iowa Bulls’ Silver Cup national championship banner is now in the rafters at the North Iowa Ice Arena, and the Bulls looked every bit as dominant in their 2016-17 home opener against the Chicago Bulldogs as they did in their 2015-16 regular-season finale against the Bulldogs. North Iowa put seven goals on the Bulldogs in the second period, but there was no luck involved in a 14-1 rout that sent the Bulls back a game above .500 for the year and sent 812 fans home happy from the first game of the year in “The Barn.”
North Iowa got Mitch Dolter (Faribault, Minn./Shattuck-St. Mary’s) onto the score sheet for the first time as a Bull at the 7:55 mark of the first period, and at 10:04 Kristian Kause (Tampere, Finland/Ilves) made his first impression on the home fans with a goal – the Bulls fans have gotten used to seeing Kohei Sato (Nishitokio, Japan/North Iowa Bulls) find the back of the net, and he buried his first goal of the home schedule with just 1:43 showing on the first-period clock.
Sato’s back-to-back goals near the midway point of the period highlighted the seven-goal second stanza, an outburst that included Brendan Studioso’s (Mukilteo, Wash./Dallas Stars Elite) first two goals in a Bulls sweater. After Colton Haling’s high-sticking penalty with 1:40 left on the second-period clock, Marshall Barnes (Edina, Minn./North Iowa Bulls) made the ‘Dogs pay with a power play tally at the 19:11 mark of the period to give the home team a 10-0 lead with a period to go.
Owen Larson (Edina, Minn./North Iowa Bulls) notched his second goal of the game at the 4:19 mark of the third, but the Bulldogs finally found their answer with Jack Henneman’s unassisted goal just 37 seconds later. Sean Mallonee (Kennewick, Wash./North Iowa Bulls) and Zach Hayes (Bartlett, Ill./Team Illinois) added goals in short order over the next three minutes, followed by Josh Arnold’s (Roseville, Minn./Bismarck Bobcats) first tally as a Bull with just 1:37 remaining in the game.
Roman Malkov (Moscow, Russia/Belle Tire) turned aside 19 of the Bulldogs’ 20 shots in the game, while Craig Shepherd made a pair of moves in net Friday night – after pulling Jacob Ditmer after Sato’s second goal, Josh Cannon’s stint in net would last just more than five minutes. After making just three saves on six North Iowa shots, Ditmer got the call to return to the net and finish the contest. He would finish the night with 37 saves on 48 shots. The same two teams match up again Saturday night in the middle game of their three-game set, starting at 7:30 p.m. at the North Iowa Ice Arena. $1 hot dogs and Busch Light beers highlight the promotional list for Saturday’s outing.