MASON CITY, Iowa – Frisk Asker’s under-20 junior hockey team came more than 4,000 miles to spend its preseason in the Upper Midwest, and included a stop in Mason City on its itinerary for an exhibition contest against the Mason City Toros.
In Sunday’s game, Asker kept on coming.
NTG Asker U20, the junior affiliate associated with the Frisk Asker professional team from Norway, erased three different Toros leads before eventually falling in a shootout, 6-5. The game both opened and closed Mason City’s preseason schedule ahead of its visit to the Minnesota Loons this coming Friday and Saturday to open North American 3 Hockey League play.
The scoring started just 7:01 into the contest when Jacob Miller found space to dash the puck down the left wing before feeding it in front to Andrew Ralston on the back post, who poked the puck just behind Marcus Dehn for a 1-0 advantage.
A cross-checking penalty to Drake Adams midway through the period opened the door for the visitors, and the ensuing goal briefly opened the floodgates. Sverre Larsen’s rope from the left-wing faceoff dot beat Zack Ortolano for a tying goal with 9:25 left in the period, and barely three minutes after picking up the assist, Frederik Andreassen took a pass from Filip Hovland down the right-wing faceoff circle and snapped it into the net for a 2-1 lead.
Cal Levis picked up his own equalizer with a top-shelf goal at 14:40 of the period, taking advantage of a blocked shot at the left point and sending the teams to the locker room with a 2-2 tie.
Levis returned to the score sheet at 7:10 of the second period, firing one past Dehn on the rush from the right-wing faceoff dot to regain the lead. With just 20 seconds left in the period, Kellen Kantaris found a loose puck in front of the Asker net and stuffed it in before Dehn could jump on top of it, giving Mason City a 4-2 lead going to the third.
The Toros nearly held on for a regulation victory, carrying the margin into the final five minutes before Marius Fjell put away a third-chance goal with 4:43 remaining to cut the lead to 4-3, and Tinius Ekhagen’s goal with 2:50 remaining wiped out the remaining lead.
Hunter Nelson did his best to wear the hero’s cape just 29 seconds later, when Andy Larsen pushed a pass to Nelson in front of the net, and his backhand swat found its way through Dehn for the 5-4 lead. A too-many-men penalty put the Toros on the power play with 1:14 left, but Fjell found the puck and sprinted into the Mason City end of the rink before earning a penalty shot – and scoring on it – with just 58 seconds remaining in the contest.
Five minutes of overtime and five rounds of the shootout passed uneventfully, but Nelson stepped up again in the sixth round for Mason City, banking one off the inside of the right post and closing out the night with the only goal of the extra session.
Each of three goaltenders played a period for the Toros, with Aaro Pesola playing the overtime and shootout as well as the third period. Ortolano allowed two goals on seven shots in the opening stanza, followed by a perfect seven-save performance in the second period from Connor Graham.
Pesola made two saves in earning the win, while Dehn took the shootout loss behind a 23-save showing. NTG Asker posted a solid mark on the power play with a 2-for-5 day, while the Toros went without a goal in three power play chances.
Mason City will play four road games before opening its home schedule against the defending Fraser Cup champion Rochester Grizzlies on October 7. The first two of those four contests are set for Friday and Saturday against the Minnesota Loons in Breezy Point, Minnesota. The opening puck drop both nights is scheduled for 7:30 p.m., with live streaming coverage on HockeyTV.
To purchase advance tickets to upcoming Mason City Toros home games, call 641-423-4625 or click here. Updated news and information on Mason City Toros hockey are always available at www.masoncitytoros.com, and by following the team’s social media platforms on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.