MASON CITY, Iowa – Chicago landed the opening goal in Saturday’s NA3HL Central Division contest against the North Iowa Bulls, thanks to a first-period power play, but their momentum was short-lived. Thanks to a pair of Owen Larson (Edina, Minn./North Iowa Bulls) goals, North Iowa’s was not – Larson notched both the game-winner and the insurance goal in a 7-1 rout of the Bulldogs, as the Bulls moved two games over .500 for the first time this year, and won their fourth outing in five.
Following Zach Hayes‘s (Bartlett, Ill./Team Illinois) minor for checking from behind at the 7:44 mark of the first period, Jack Johnson tossed one in front from the left point, and Jack Henneman answered his lone goal Friday night with the early go-ahead goal on the doorstep in front of Josh Benson at 8:21 of the period. Kohei Sato (Nishitokio, Japan/North Iowa Bulls) followed up on his hat trick from Friday night with a tap-in equalizer at the period’s 14:35 mark to tie the game at 1.
“That [powerplay goal] was a great play by them,” said Bulls coach Todd Sanden. The winger threw one to a guy charging hard to the net, and he even deflected it out of mid-air, so if you’re going to get scored on, those are probably the ones you want to give up. It wasn’t a soft goal by any stretch.”
Larson turned up the heat with his pair of goals at 4:48 and 12:08 of the second period, building a 3-1 cushion before Kristian Kause (Tampere, Finland/Ilves) walked in a powerplay goal with 4:28 remaining in the second period to put the lead at 4-1 with 20 minutes remaining.
Two goals in short order turned the game into a runaway midway through the third period – Marshall Tschida‘s (Woodbury, Minn./Woodbury HS) point shot from the right wing knuckled its way through traffic and beat Jacob Dittmer low for a 5-1 lead at 10:33, and right off the ensuing faceoff, Sato chased down the puck and ran it in past Dittmer for a 6-1 lead just eight seconds later. The final goal of the night came from Marshall Barnes (Edina, Minn./North Iowa Bulls), after Shane Bernhardson‘s (Apple Valley, Minn./North Iowa Bulls) toss to the net found Barnes in front for the final tally at 12:08 of the period.
“I thought [Larson] was really good in the last 40 (minutes),” said Sanden. “He was okay in the first 20, but in the last 40 he really was a difference-maker.”
Josh Benson (Stillwater, Minn./Brookings Blizzard) made his North Iowa debut in net, turning all of the 24 shots he faced except for Hanneman’s special-teams tally in the first period. The loss went to Dittmer, who stopped 40 of the 47 shots he faced. North Iowa defenseman Mike Lyons (Wheaton, Ill./North Iowa Bulls) also made an impact in the contest with a pair of assists and a +3 rating. The Bulls square off with Chicago again as the Bulldogs play the last of their three games in Mason City for the regular season. The opening faceoff is set for 3 p.m. at the North Iowa Ice Arena – Austin Draude will have the call of Sunday’s game, starting with pregame coverage on HockeyTV and Mixlr at 2:45.