MASON CITY, Iowa – When a team brings home the ultimate prize, it usually follows with enough hardware to fill a chest. The North Iowa Bulls filled their shelf Tuesday afternoon with postseason awards from the North American Tier 3 Hockey League, with four landing on the league’s final awards list.
The Bulls landed a Defenseman of the Year honor from the NA3HL, with Cal Nauss landing the award as the league’s top blueliner in 2020-21. Nauss became the first North Iowa defenseman ever to lead the team in assists, posting 28 helpers to go along with his 10 goals. His 38 total points ranked second on the team, and the Wayzata, Minnesota product added four more in nine postseason outings. Nauss posted 66 points in 83 career games as a Bull, heading to St. Mary’s University in Minnesota next season.
The league’s Rookie of the Year was only with the team a portion of the season, but made his biggest mark when it counted the most. Carsen Stokes won just two regular-season games, joining the team on February 3 and finally earning his first win March 6 at Willmar. However, he went 8-1-1 in the postseason with a 1.39 goals-against average and an astonishing .952 save percentage. He would play every single minute of the postseason, including all 241 minutes at the Fraser Cup championship tournament.
Forward Carson Jones was named to the league’s First Team, landing the only 40-point season in the West Division this year. Jones landed in Mason City from the North American Hockey League’s Springfield Jr. Blues, who went dark in 2020-21 due to COVID-related restrictions on spectator sports crowds in the state of Illinois. Jones finished the regular season with 20 goals and 21 assists, and added three goals and three assists in the Fraser Cup tournament. The Eden Prairie, Minnesota native tendered in November with the Jr. Blues, heading back to Springfield and the NAHL to start next season.
The architect of the 2020-21 national championship roster, head coach and general manager Todd Sanden, was named the league’s GM of the Year after building a team that would go 27-11-1-1 in the regular season and tack on an additional eight postseason wins. The Bulls capped their “Decade of Dominance” with their eighth division championship, fourth NA3HL title and fourth national championship, winning more than 400 regular-season and postseason games along the way. To date, five players from this season’s team have made NCAA commitments for 2021-22, and three others have tendered with NAHL programs for next year.
Nauss was also named the West Division’s Most Valuable Player and Defenseman of the Year, while Jones garnered the division’s Forward of the Year honor and Stokes picked up the West’s Goaltender of the Year and Rookie of the Year awards.
This season marks back-to-back Rookie of the Year honors for North Iowa, after Lucas Wahlin nabbed the Rookie of the Year award for the Bulls in 2019-20, and Jones and Nauss’s inclusions on the NA3HL’s First Team marked the second straight season that at least one North Iowa player has been so honored. Sanden’s General Manager of the Year award is his third in the last four years and fourth overall, while Nauss’s Defenseman of the Year award is the Bulls’ first since Adam Orn in 2015-16.
2021-22 season tickets are on sale now for the Bulls’ first season as members of the North American Hockey League. For more information, or to purchase season tickets, call 641-423-4625 or visit www.northiowabulls.com.