ROCHESTER, Minn. – With back-to-back series against the defending Fraser Cup champion Rochester Grizzlies and defending Fraser Cup runner-up Granite City Lumberjacks, the Mason City Toros’ schedule is hitting full speed as the North American 3 Hockey League gets settled into the month of October.
The Grizzlies gave the Toros a bumpy ride during their half of that stretch, following up an 8-4 win on Friday night in Mason City with a 4-2 victory at home on Saturday, extending their own run to three straight wins in the process.
The teams got the scoring started early, with Carter Newpower (Cottage Grove, Minn./Mason City Toros) driving the puck down the left-wing wall and hitting Cullen Hogan (Dallas, Texas/Mason City Toros) in transition for a wrist-shot goal to grab the lead just 6:37 into the game. Rochester would erase that advantage with 7:09 remaining, as Joseph Yoon took a pass from Spencer Klotz and pulled the puck to Connor Graham’s (Fort Wayne, Ind./Indy Jr. Fuel U18) stick side before sliding it into the net.
The Grizzlies ended the period with the lead, thanks to a power play goal from Luke Sawicky with 2:38 left in the period – with Hayden Siegel (Deerfield, Ill./Northern Cyclones) serving time for a tripping infraction, Sawicky finished a chance at the net on an initial shot from Logan Kroyman just inside the blue line to get the lead to 2-1.
Mason City ensured that advantage wouldn’t last, either – with just 1:11 to go in the second, David Loahr’s (New Brighton, Minn./Irondale H.S.) left-wing shot was left in front of the net for Marcus Fritel (Elk River, Minn./Elk River H.S.) to pull away from goaltender Tate Cothern and deposit into the Rochester cage, tying the game at 2-2.
Ben Oakland would make the difference the rest of the way, tossing in a second chance on the 5-on-3 with 12:30 remaining and adding an empty-net marker from the top of the left-wing circle with 21 seconds showing on the clock.
The Grizzlies took advantage of their allotted opportunities on the power play, going 2-for-4, while Mason City was not able to capitalize on its lone chance in the second period. Shots on net were at a premium in the game, with Graham taking the loss in a seven-save performance to fall back to 2-2 on the year. Cothern went 15-for-17, earning his second win of the year.
The pass from Newpower that led to Hogan’s goal also represented a milestone for the third-year Toros forward, scoring his 129th career point to push him past Rihards Marenis for ninth on the all-time Mason City Tier III scoring list. The next milestone is still some distance away, but Newpower will have a chance to pass several greats in quick succession – former teammate Sota Isogai is next up at 141 career points, followed by Marshall Barnes and Brendan Studioso, tied for sixth at 143 career points.
An early run of road trips continues next weekend for Mason City, who finished the night at 3-3 for the season. Granite City awaits for a two-game set next Friday and Saturday at Sports Arena East in Sauk Rapids, Minnesota. The opening puck drop both nights is scheduled for 7:30 p.m., with live streaming coverage on HockeyTV.
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Mason City 1 1 0 – 2
Rochester 2 0 2 – 4
1st Period-1, Mason City, Hogan 6 (Newpower, Junker), 6:37. 2, Rochester, Yoon 1 (Klotz), 12:51. 3, Rochester, Sawicky 7 (Strand, Kroyman), 17:22 (PP). Penalties-hayden Mct (tripping-minor), 16:33.
2nd Period-4, Mason City, Fritel 2 (Loarh, Peterson), 18:49. Penalties-Ralston Mct (kneeing-minor), 2:23; Sawicky Roc (cross checking-minor), 8:29.
3rd Period-5, Rochester, Oakland 1 (Van Tassel, Waage), 7:30 (PP). 6, Rochester, Oakland 2 (Van Tassel), 19:39 (EN). Penalties-hayden Mct (tripping-minor), 6:11; Kochanowski Mct (cross checking-minor), 7:00.
Shots on Goal-Mason City 5-12-0-17. Rochester 7-2-2-11.
Power Play Opportunities-Mason City 0 / 0; Rochester 2 / 0.
Goalies-Mason City, Graham 2-2-0-0 (10 shots-7 saves). Rochester, Cothern 2-0-0-0 (17 shots-15 saves).
Linesmen-Matthew McMillen, Ben Stark.