SAUK RAPIDS, Minn. – Forget the two games the Mason City Toros played last week against the defending Fraser Cup champion Rochester Grizzlies, or even the split the previous weekend against the New Ulm Steel. A stretch of three losses in four games doesn’t mean much when the opponent is also the arch-rival, even less so when that arch-rival is the defending league runner-up.
The North American 3 Hockey League’s last remaining unbeaten fell Friday night, but still picked up a bonus point, as the Mason City Toros used a Carter Newpower (Cottage Grove, Minn./Mason City Toros) goal in the shootout to eke out a 4-3 victory at the Granite City Lumberjacks. The Toros moved back into winning territory with the victory, moving to 4-3 on the season, while the Lumberjacks dropped to 7-0-0-1 for the year.
Mason City was hit for two penalties in the first period, and the Granite City power play took advantage on the latter – a Matt Kochanowski (Apple Valley, Minn./Mason City Toros) cross-checking infraction put the Lumberjacks up a man, and Finnigan Greeley tossed a wrist shot from the top of the zone past Connor Graham (Fort Wayne, Ind./Indy Jr. Fuel U18) with 3:15 remaining to send the Lumberjacks to the locker room with a 1-0 lead.
The Toros’ response was quick – just 75 seconds out of the break, David Loahr (New Brighton, Minn./Irondale H.S.) broke down the left wing and found Ethan Peterson (Mahtomedi, Minn./Mason City Toros) with plenty of space on the doorstep for a tap-in and a tying marker.
Mason City grabbed the lead with 5:50 remaining in the period, when Colin Hedland’s (Anchorage, Alaska/Mason City Toros) pass to the left point found Easton Tok (Eau Claire, Wis./Mason City Toros), who rifled a wrist shot past Xander Roberts to put the Toros in front. A roughing call to Nolan Christy (Burnsville, Minn./Amarillo Wranglers) less than a minute later put the Lumberjacks back on the power play, and Brett Robinson drove the puck to the left-wing faceoff dot before sailing it past Graham to tie it with 4:22 left in the period.
5:47 into the third, Mason City regained the power play, thanks to a drive down the left-wing wall by Cullen Hogan (Dallas, Texas/Mason City Toros), who churned the puck below the faceoff circle and carried it in front of the net before depositing it past Roberts for a 3-2 lead.
The Toros defended the lead for 11 minutes, until Joe Greniuk’s goal with 3:19 remaining, speeding the puck through neutral ice and around a defender, and tossing it into the upper half of the net.
Each team got three unsuccessful shots at the net in the overtime, and Newpower’s goal was the only one to come from the six shooters who saw the ice in the skills contest.
The shot count was almost even throughout the night, with the Lumberjacks prevailing 32-30 in that department. Granite City took advantage of its chances on the special teams, going 2-for-4 on the man-advantage and adding the shorthanded goal from Greniuk in the third, while Mason City came up empty in its three power play chances.
Graham earned the win with 29 saves on 32 shots, moving to 3-2 on the season. Roberts’s five-game winning streak came to a close with 26 saves on 29 shots.
Peterson highlighted the North Iowa effort with a goal and an assist, while Greeley posted an identical mark for the Lumberjacks’ only multi-point game.
The teams return to action for a rematch Saturday night at Sports Arena East in Sauk Rapids, with the opening puck drop slated for 7:30 p.m. Live streaming coverage of Saturday’s game is available on HockeyTV.
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Mason City 0 2 1 0 – 4
Granite City 1 1 1 0 – 3
1st Period-1, Granite City, Greeley 1 (McPartland, Deanovich), 16:45 (PP). Penalties-Barrington Mct (cross checking-minor), 3:33; Kochanowski Mct (cross checking-minor), 16:11.
2nd Period-2, Mason City, Peterson 3 (Loarh, Kochanowski), 1:15. 3, Mason City, Tok 1 (Hedland, Peterson), 14:10. 4, Granite City, Robinson 4 15:38 (PP). Penalties-Christy Mct (roughing-minor), 14:57; Fritel Mct (roughing-minor), 16:33; Greniuk Gcy (roughing-minor), 16:33.
3rd Period-5, Mason City, Hogan 7 (Barrington, Newpower), 5:47. 6, Granite City, Greniuk 1 (Greeley), 16:41 (SH). Penalties-Robinson Gcy (elbowing-minor), 2:03; Christy Mct (interference-minor), 14:37; Mortenson Gcy (delay of game-minor), 15:38; Johnson Gcy (high sticking-double minor), 19:29.
OT Period- No Scoring.Penalties-Hogan Mct (holding-minor), 1:06.
Shootout – Mason City 1 (Hogan NG, Newpower G, Loarh NG), Granite City 0 (Slater NG, Greniuk NG, Delzer NG).
Shots on Goal-Mason City 11-8-7-3-1-30. Granite City 12-9-8-3-0-32.
Power Play Opportunities-Mason City 0 / 3; Granite City 2 / 4.
Goalies-Mason City, Graham 3-2-0-0 (32 shots-29 saves). Granite City, Roberts 5-0-0-1 (29 shots-26 saves).
Linesmen-Kyle Henasey, Matthew McMillen.