MASON CITY — North Iowa and head coach/general manager Todd Sanden have always been about one thing since the team started in Mason City seven years ago: winning titles.
Whether it’s division titles, league championships or national titles; they’re all fun to the Bulls. On Friday night, they added another to the collection as a 7-2 win over La Crosse wrapped up a sixth straight division crown.
Over the years, those titles have come by wide margins or have come down to the final few weeks, like this one. At the end of the day, what they’re most proud of is the culture they’ve built where that is expected.
“It is tough and it seems to get tougher every year,” Sanden said. “Obviously we set a bar that’s high, but at the end of the day we’re getting the right kids and we’re getting the right commitment to the families. When you have special people then you can do special things, and we’re so blessed in every area of how this team operates.”
The faces change every year, but the success has never fluctuated. Friday’s win was the perfect example.
The Bulls and La Crosse were coming right down to the wire to decide who would win the division. Granted, all North Iowa had to do was win one of its final four games to do so, but the Freeze were still right on their heels having rattled off 12 straight wins prior to Friday night.
What the night turned into for North Iowa was a message.
“I think we were trying to tell that that we were going to be serious and play them every day like this so they’d better be ready for playoffs,” North Iowa forward Dan Sandvig said. “We wanted to play this one like playoffs and I think we came out flying, so it was good.”
Even in Sandvig’s first season with the Bulls, the Burnsville, Minnesota, native still gets what it’s about here. And his talents have been a welcome addition for North Iowa, which likes to run as deep as possible.
“I think it’s a blessing,” Sandvig said of being a part of the organization. “It’s pretty crazy to be a part of and an honor to play for the team this year.”
They aren’t done, though. There’s still the last three games to get through, and then the divisional playoffs, and finally the league championship tournament.
If Friday’s statement was any indication, expect the Bulls to be right there chasing another title.
“It doesn’t matter who we’re playing,” Sanden said. “I think we have a game style and a way that we want to play, and I think if we focus on that, we’ll be fine.”