Lyons Lifts Bulls to 15th Straight Win

Nov 19, 2016

Post Game Report 11-18


SAUK RAPIDS, Minn. – Friday’s 50th meeting in the storied North Iowa/Granite City rivalry ended the only way it could  – with a shootout deciding the game after a 65-minute stalemate. Defenseman Mike Lyons (Wheaton, Ill./North Iowa Bulls) whipped the game-winner past Mac Berglove for the only goal of the shootout to give North Iowa its 15th straight win.

Games between the Bulls and Lumberjacks tend to be grind-’em-out affairs, but this one got off to a quick start – just 54 seconds into the game, North Iowa got its first opportunity on the power play, thanks to a high-sticking minor from Granite City’s Keegan Lund. Sean Mallonee (Kennewick, Wash./North Iowa Bulls) made the opening power play his own, tipping in Lyons’s shot from just inside the blue line for a 5-on-4 goal at the 1:21 mark of the game. Barely a minute-and-a-half later, it was Owen Sikich getting the ‘Jacks on the board, with some help from Ryan Smith and Will Mix to tie the game.

Both teams’ offenses went silent after the initial three minutes of the contest, and each team went a perfect 7-for-7 on the penalty kill following those early goals. Highlighting the special-teams work for North Iowa was a sequence in the last minute of the second period and the opening minute of the third where the Bulls fought off simultaneous double-minor roughing calls against Marshall Barnes (Edina, Minn./North Iowa Bulls) and Owen Larson (Minneapolis, Minn./North Iowa Bulls) and a two-minute 5-on-3 opportunity for Granite City.

Josh Benson (Stillwater, Minn./Brookings Blizzard) bumped his record to 6-0 for the season with 30 saves on 31 Granite City shots, playing in his first game in four weeks. Only Sikich’s first-period goal kept Benson from earning his first shutout in a Bulls uniform. Berglove dropped an overtime decision for the fourth time this season. It’s the eighth time that a matchup between the teams has gone to overtime or a shootout, with the Bulls having won four of the last five that have gone to extra time.

Also of note for the Bulls was an end to Barnes’s 14-game point streak – that run was the second-longest active assist streak in the NA3HL, and the North Iowa veteran first-liner racked up 41 total points during that 14-game span.

“It’s a big win, coming in here not knowing what to expect from these guys,” said Mallonee. “We battled hard as a team and had some big [penalty] kills as a team, and I’m glad we pulled out the win.”

The same two teams will meet up on the Armadillo Deck Rink at Sports Arena East on Saturday night, with a 7:30 p.m. faceoff. Saturday’s game will be audio-streamed live on Mixlr and all Bulls home games are also available on Mixlr – video streaming of all Bulls games, home and away, is available through HockeyTV.