Post Game Report 3-30
ROMEOVILLE, Ill. – Sean Mallonee‘s (Kennewick, Wash./North Iowa Bulls) two goals in the first 40 minutes gave the North Iowa Bulls early hope Thursday night at the NA3HL Silver Cup national championship tournament, but a boarding major to Tyler Bump (Prior Lake, Minn./Minnesota Magicians) and a five-minute power play gave the Binghamton Jr. Senators new life in the third. In the end, it was a second-chance goal from Nick Klishko (San Diego, Calif./Amarillo Bulls) that gave North Iowa’s Silver Cup title hopes a second chance in a 3-2 overtime victory.
Mallonee didn’t wait long to bury a chance for the Bulls and give the defending champs the lead – just 3:22 into the contest, Mallonee snapped one past Salvatore Lauretta from the left faceoff circle, after a toss from Klishko on the half-wall to Lauretta’s left.
The shots-on-goal count climbed in North Iowa’s favor early in the game, with the Bulls holding a 15-9 edge at the end of the first period and a 25-17 edge at the end of the second. That second-intermission lead was a 2-0 tally, after North Iowa held a clearing attempt in the Jr. Senators zone, and Mallonee walked the puck back to the top of the slot before sending another wrist shot past Lauretta to double the lead.
The game would turn dramatically at the halfway point of the third, after a violent hit in the Binghamton zone, as Matthew Emerick would collide hard with the corner boards and be helped off the ice several minutes later. Bump was ejected for the hit, and the Jr. Senators vaunted power-play unit went to work. A backhand push to the net from Connor Landrigan three minutes into the man-advantage would find its way past Drew Scites (Plymouth, Minn./Prior Lake H.S.) to cut the lead back to one with 7:01 to go in the contest.
The lead would slip away with just 2:32 to go, with Scites unable to completely cover the puck before Landrigan would scrape the puck past to tie the game at 2-2. Following regulation, the teams immediately went to a 10-minute overtime period, with a shootout looming at the end of the extra session.
Of the 10 minutes allotted, the Bulls needed just 49 seconds – Mallonee rushed the puck up the left wing in the hunt for the first shot of overtime, and the drop pass was tipped right to Klishko, who buried the chance at point-blank range to send the Bulls faithful into a frenzy and leave Lauretta sitting in his crease at the end wondering what might have been.
“[Mallonee] made a great play,” said Klishko. “He was buzzing all day, and he was hard on the forecheck. He stripped the puck from the defenseman and brought it to the net hard like we were told to do by Coach [Sanden]. I just came by late and found the puck in the slot and just shot it, got lucky and put it in.”
The Bulls evened their record at 1-1 at the tournament, with an excellent game from Scites in net. The Prior Lake alumnus made 29 saves against 31 shots, halting a 28-game Binghamton winning streak. That run was the longest active run in the league, and one of the longest in NA3HL history. The opening goal from Mallonee was also a huge one, the first time in a nine-game span that the Bulls had opened a Silver Cup game with the lead.
The drive is still alive for a North Iowa championship, but a new three-point tiebreaker system and their loss to the Yellowstone Quake on Wednesday night still has the Bulls on shaky ground going into the final game. A Binghamton win against Yellowstone on Friday would give them no fewer than six points out of a possible nine, and clinch the spot in the Silver Cup semifinals – the Bulls only received two points for the overtime win, and can get to no more than five points out of nine for the weekend. Should Binghamton tie with the Bulls in the point total, North Iowa would advance thanks to their head-to-head win.
The third and final game of pool play takes the Bulls up against Coastal Division Long Beach and the Sharks, on Rink 1 at Canlan Ice Sports in Romeoville. All Silver Cup games are streamed exclusively on HockeyTV, with Austin Draude calling all Bulls games at the tournament.
2017-18 season tickets are on sale now – adult season tickets for all 22 home games next year are just $200, or reserve a family’s worth of season tickets for just $500. 10-game flex vouchers are also available for just $85. For more information, or to reserve your 2017-18 season tickets in “The Barn,” click here.