MASON CITY | It’s one of those statistics that creeps into North Iowa coach Todd Sanden’s mind a couple times a year.
With an offense routinely among the best in the NA3HL, the possibility of getting shutout doesn’t present itself very often.
On Saturday, in a 2-0 loss at La Crosse, North Iowa was blanked for the first time this season.
It was only the second time in franchise history the Bulls skated off the ice without scoring a goal.
“Yeah, I knew that it was only the second time because it doesn’t happen very often. When it happens, I guess it just sets another milestone,” Sanden said jokingly. “With the odds of that happening (over six years), we’ve beat the odds.
“Honestly, that’s a credit to the kind of kids we’ve got there.”
The only other time North Iowa has been shut out was last season in a 1-0 loss to Granite City.
The shutout loss didn’t do much to change Sanden’s perception of his team.
His biggest concern these days is trying to keep a team that plays only two NA3HL games in 26 days sharp.
The Bulls host a streaking Wisconsin team that has won five in a row Saturday at 7:30 p.m. before a two-week break.
For Sanden, the lengthy layoff means his job entails finding ways to keep his team sharp.
The Bulls will host prep powerhouse Shattuck St. Mary’s next Thursday in an exhibition at 7:30 p.m.
“Absolutely that’s a good test for us and a good way to stay sharp,” Sanden said. “We only have a few games, but they’re not cupcakes.”
Wisconsin enters Saturday’s tilt 7-3-0-0 over its last 10 games and is tied with La Crosse for second in the 3HL Central Division.
North Iowa is 7-2-0-1 over its last 10 and has already clinched a playoff berth.
The Bulls’ workload will increase in February. After two games in 26 days, North Iowa will play 10 times in 29 days.
Bulls’ bullet points
Another Bump: Sanden said the Bulls have acquired forward Tyler Bump from the Minnesota Magicians of the NAHL. Bump is the younger brother of former Bulls enforcer Connor Bump.
“He’s more an offensive guy, a gritty forward,” Sanden said. “I don’t see him as a guy who is going to be dropping the gloves.”
Home cooking: Heading into this weekend’s game, North Iowa is 12-1-0-0 at home this season.
Special teams: The Bulls are fourth in the 48-team NA3HL on the power play, scoring 29.6 percent of the time. The Bulls are fifth on the penalty kill, not allowing a goal on 88.4 percent of opposing power plays.