ROCHESTER, Minn. – The North Iowa Bulls have played a dozen Central Division games in a row since starting the year with road contests against Peoria and St. Louis – the Bulls have come out of that 12-game stretch unscathed following an 11-2 rout of the Rochester Ice Hawks on Saturday night. North Iowa goaltender and former Rocket Brady Meyers (Rochester, Minn./John Marshall H.S.) was only occasionally tested in his return to his hometown, facing 13 Rochester shots and stopping 11.
Right away, special teams became an impact in the contest, with Andrew Gates’s tripping minor at 2:43 leading to a Marshall Barnes (Edina, Minn./North Iowa Bulls) goal just 66 seconds later for the opening goal of the game. Tim Kuivinen (Mahtomedi, Minn./Mahtomedi H.S.) scored his first goal as a Bull with 8:10 remaining in the period, followed by Lucas McKinnon (Mason City, Iowa/Appleton United H.S.) and Josh Arnold‘s (Roseville, Minn./Bismarck Bobcats) fourth goals of the year within a four-minute span.
Sam Bjellum got his first goal of the year at the 5:13 mark of the second period, but the three-goal margin didn’t last long. A backhand pass across the mouth of the goal from Connor Clemons (Savage, Minn./Prior Lake H.S.) led to a one-timer tap-in from Barnes – within the next five minutes Owen Larson (Minneapolis, Minn./North Iowa Bulls) had added a pair, Brendan Studioso (Mukilteo, Wash./Dallas Stars Elite) had scored a goal of his own, and Rochester starter Drew Schenkenberg had been chased from the Ice Hawks’ net.
Logan Miller (Menomonie, Wis./Menomonie H.S.) added to the 8-1 second-intermission lead with a goal at 6:05 of the third, and both teams’ fans found reasons to rise from their seats in the final 4:14 of the game. Caylen Dyni (Fond du Lac, Wis./Fond du Lac H.S.) lit the lamp at the 15:46 mark of the game, followed by a goal from Vincent Billing (Rogers, Minn./Rogers H.S.) just two minutes later. The visitors couldn’t keep their winning margin in double-figures, though, thanks to Austyn Renn’s final goal with 1:09 showing on the Rochester Recreation Center clock.
“We just played North Iowa Bulls hockey,” said Barnes. “We did the little things right, forechecked, hit more, and just played with more intensity.”
The next three weeks will bring a brief respite from Central Division play as the Bulls take on the Willmar Warhawks next Friday and Saturday night, followed by a two-game trip to Granite City on Nov. 18 and 19. Both games against the Warhawks are set for 7:30 p.m. starts at the North Iowa Ice Arena, and Saturday’s game is also Military Night, with a special jersey auction to benefit the Families’ Alliance for Veterans of America. All Bulls games are streamed live on HockeyTV, and both games next weekend will also be audio-streamed on Mixlr.