FARIBAULT, Minn. – Knocking off the Shattuck-St. Mary’s prep hockey team on its home ice is never an easy task, and it’s only gotten harder lately.
The Sabres entered Wednesday’s contest against the North Iowa Bulls on a 23-game home unbeaten streak, dating back to a November 2019 contest against Chicago Mission at the J.P. Parise Arena.
North Iowa got its shots in, but the Bulls fell 3-2 to the Sabres, just two months after knocking off Shattuck-St. Mary’s 4-3 in their get-together at the Mason City Multipurpose Arena. With the loss, the Bulls fell to 0-6 all-time in Faribault in one of their hardest-fought games yet against one of the nation’s top prep hockey programs..
The first North Iowa goal came quickly, just 20 seconds into the contest. That first goal came on the game’s first lucky carom, with Carter Newpower (Cottage Grove, Minn./Park H.S.) sweeping a centering pass off of the toe of Ethan Begg’s stick. Begg’s joust would end up beating teammate Austin Zavoda over his left shoulder for the early 1-0 lead.
It wouldn’t take long for Shattuck-St. Mary’s to get the goal back, though, taking advantage of a bounce of its own. Just 1:23 into the game, Casey Aman’s setup pass caught the skate of Will Whitelaw out front, and Luke Buss banged in the chance with Carsen Stokes (Prior Lake, Minn./Minnesota Wilderness) stuck on the left post.
Both teams got a look on the power play in the opening 20 minutes, but came up empty. Shattuck-St. Mary’s would take the lead for good with 4:15 remaining in the second, as Dana Wallace drove the puck around the back of the net and tucked in a wraparound on Stokes’s stick-side for the 2-1 advantage.
A tripping penalty against Jase Sofo (Sylvania, Ohio/Amarillo Bulls) would prove costly – a well-arranged power play chance went from Begg through Conner Schneider at the slot, finding Charlie Lurie on the right wing. His snap from the bottom of the faceoff circle hit the back of the net for a power play tally and a 3-1 Sabres lead with 7:52 remaining.
North Iowa quickly responded thanks to a toss to the net from Campbell Cichosz (Albert Lea, Minn./North Iowa Bulls) at the right point – his shot hit both Lurie and Carson Jones’s (Eden Prairie, Minn./Kenai River Brown Bears) sticks, knuckling past Zavoda with 7:09 remaining to cut the lead to 3-2.
Stokes left the Bulls net at 1:37 as North Iowa inserted a sixth attacker, but the move was short-lived – just 12 seconds later, a penalty to Brayden Uttech (Sun Prairie, Minn./Wisconsin Rapids Riverkings) forced Stokes back into action, and Shattuck-St. Mary’s was able to run out the time.
“I think they’re definitely faster (than in January’s game),” said Newpower. “They’re a skill team, and they were definitely going to take it to us tonight, especially at their rink. They meant business – I think we played well, but we just couldn’t get the job done.”
Shattuck-St. Mary’s finished 1-for-3 on the power play, while North Iowa went 0-for-2 on the night. Zavoda made 25 saves to move to 14-2 on the season, while Stokes took the loss behind a 30-save effort in his first game back at Shattuck-St. Mary’s since graduating last season.
“I spent four years here. It’s just cool to see everything going on,” said Stokes. “It was fun playing them, being on the other side of the ice for once.”
The Sabres moved their run of success at home to 24 straight games without a loss, and bumped their record to 22-4-2 for the year. Wednesday’s game was an exhibition contest for North Iowa, keeping them at 25-9-1-1 heading into a pivotal weekend against the Granite City Lumberjacks. Granite City’s 5-3 loss to the New Ulm Steel drops the magic number for a North Iowa division title to just 10 points, and the Bulls can take care of eight of those points in a weekend set against the Lumberjacks.
The upcoming weekend is also the Bulls’ final jersey auction weekend of 2020-21, with the team set to wear special jerseys in both games to benefit Autism Speaks. The jerseys are currently being auctioned online through DASH Auction, with bidding to continue through the third period of Saturday’s contest. Friday and Saturday’s games get started at 7:30 p.m. at the Mason City Multipurpose Arena, with live streaming coverage on HockeyTV and free audio streaming on Mixlr.
Updated news and information on the North Iowa Bulls’ 10th Anniversary season are always available at www.northiowabulls.com, and by following the team’s social media platforms on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.