Biermaier’s late goal lifts Loons to season opening win at home

By Jim den Hollander  


The league itself kicked off the previous weekend but teams from the Midwest-based Central and West Divisions kicked off their 2023-24 NA3HL season this past weekend. 

Among the exciting opening night action, the Mason City Toros battle back from a 3-1 deficit to tie the host Minnesota Loons at 3-3 with 2:59 to play only to have Blake Biermaier (‘03/Thief River Falls, MN) fire another just 43 seconds later to send the Breezy Point fans home happy. 

Other West Division games on opening night saw the Rochester Grizzlies return to the division and battle the visiting Granite City Lumberjacks to the end, but ultimately surrendering a 2-1 decision in overtime. 

Central Division’s opening night saw the Wisconsin Woodsmen making their debut in Tomah but falling 5-2 against the visiting Oregon Tradesmen and Peoria Mustangs opened the season with an 8-3 road win at Affton Ice Rink against the host St. Louis Jr. Blues. 

Mason City Toros 3 @ Minnesota Loons 4 

The Loons carried a 2-1 edge out of the opening period and extended it to 3-1 in the second, setting the stage for the third period drama. 

Aidan Spenningsby (‘05/Duluth, MN) scored twice for the Loons with others for Biermaier and Eddy Retzlaff (‘04/Rochester, MN) 

Jax Schauer (‘03/Hastings, MN) scored twic for the Toros, Aaron Sawicki (‘04/Fairbault, MN) adding the other. 

Goaltending details were unavailable for both teams as this was written. 

Granite City Lumberjacks 2 @ Rochester Grizzlies 1 (ot) 

The Grizzlies’ return to the West Division provided a tough challenge for the perennial division champs who needed to work a little overtime to secure the opening game win. 

Tommy Woods (‘04/Wheeling, WV) scored the first Lumberjacks goal, Hayden Johnson (‘03/Little Falls, MN) sinking the game winner 16 seconds into the overtime segment. Anyon Bennett (‘04/Fargo, ND) played the first 40 minutes for the Lumberjacks stopping all but one of 22 shots. Sam Schowalter (‘04/Eden Prairie, MN) picked up the win, unbeaten o 12 shots. 

For the Grizzlies, Maksim Lakic (‘03/Milwaukee, WI) scored the lone goal and Tate Cothern (‘04/Rochester, MN) made 18 stops in goal. 

Oregon Tradesmen 5 @ Wisconsin Woodsmen 2 

The Woodsmen, formerly out of New Ulm, MN in the West Division, made its Central Division debut at Tomah Ice Arena, trailing 2-1 after a period and 3-1 heading to the third. 

Hunter Nelson (‘03/Jamestown, ND) scored both Woodsmen goals and Dixon Ehlers (‘04/Red Wing, MN) stopped 25 of 30 in goal. 

For the Tradesmen, goals came from Erick Bachtle (‘06/Shawnee, KS), Reid Watson (‘04/Littleton, CO),

Jordan Larkee (‘04/Apple Valley, MN), Jace Weber (‘05/Fond du Lac, WI) and Parker Murn (‘03/Dodgeville, WI). Dylan Posch (‘04/Mount Prospect, IL) stopped 40 shots to lift his team to the win despite a 42-30 edge in shots for the home team. 

Peoria Mustangs 8 @ St. Louis Jr. Blues 3  

The Mustangs scored early and often at Affton Ice Rink, carrying a 3-1 lead out of the opening period and up 5-2 by the start of the third. Jace

Blake Mitchell (‘04/East Peoria, IL) paced the ‘Stangs with a hat trick, other goals added by Samuel Truxaw (‘03/Huntington Beach, CA), Justin Funk (‘04/Thief River Falls, MN), Massimo Polistina (‘04/Sherman, IL), Mason Buchanan (‘05/Belvidere, IL) and Henry Griffin (‘04/Oak Park, IL).  

Blues goals came from Mason Wright (‘06/O’Fallon, MO), Ryan Callahan (‘03/Huntley, IL) and Carter Clemens (‘05/St. Louis, MO). 

Goaltending details were unavailable for either team. 

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