MASON CITY, Iowa – Two months ago, the Mason City Toros made history with their first-ever North American 3 Hockey League draft selections. Now, the Toros are making draft history again, with two players hearing their names called in the North American Hockey League Draft.
Goaltender Erik Chaffe will remain in Mason City, getting the call down the hall to the North Iowa Bulls in the fifth round. Chaffe was the 121st overall pick and second goaltender selected by North Iowa. Chaffe posted an outstanding season to open his junior career in 2021-22, earning 15 regular-season wins and leading the Toros to within a win of the Fraser Cup tournament. His 1.97 goals-against average and .934 save percentage also ranked in the top eight leaguewide. Chaffe played four seasons of AAA hockey in the Colorado Thunderbirds program, and originally signed a tender with the El Paso Rhinos before coming back to his home state to play for the Toros.
Forward Nik Howell also picked up a spot on the NAHL Draft board, going in the sixth round with the 151st overall pick to the Chippewa Steel. Howell, who hails from Mason City, notched nine goals and 18 assists in his first season of junior hockey in 2021-22, and played his first NAHL game with the Bulls in late January. He picked up more than 100 points in a four-year high school career with the Mason City Mohawks, and his assistant coach knows the North Iowa area well – Chippewa’s Logan Murphy played for the Bulls during his Tier III playing career from 2012-15, winning two national titles during his time in Mason City.
With Chaffe and Howell’s selections, that means seven Mason City Tier III players have now been taken in the NAHL Draft, with at least one player chosen in each of the last four years.