By: Ken Oda, minotauroshockey.com
Brookings, SD – The Minotauros continue to battle the Brookings Blizzard for the final playoff spot in the Central Division while also keeping an eye on the Aberdeen Wings who sit just six points ahead of the Tauros in third place. The weekend split with the Blizzard this weekend essentially kept the Tauros eight point lead over Brookings intact while knocking two more games off of the schedule. The Tauros have 16 games remaining in the regular season while the Blizzard have 15; but with the final four games of the season being a against each other, the Tauros will need to push their lead to at least nine points before the second half of March to eliminate the Blizzard.
On Friday night the Tauros and Blizzard battled to a 1-1 tie through forty minutes. Michele Marchetti scored for the Blizzard late in the first period and Tim Donohue answered for the Tauros in the second. For the Tauros captain it was his eighth goal of the season. The goal also broke a 110:20 shutout streak that Brookings goalie Connor Girard had going against the Minotauros. Then, as the teams battled fairly evenly through the third period Jake Howie was called for hooking with just 2:11 to play. The Blizzard’s leading score Evan Hesse, would score on the power play to give Brookings the lead; but his celebration of the goal earned him an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty and sent the Tauros to the power play. On the ensuing power play the Tauros brought goaltender Brandon Wildung to the bench to attack six on four. A mishandle at the blue line allowed Russ Jordan to send the puck into the wide open Tauro cage making the score 3-1. Jon Lizotte then converted on the power play for the Tauros with 0:27 remaining but with Wildung again on the bench the Tauros were unable to find the equalizer.
The Tauros came out with a much better effort on Saturday night. After outshooting the Blizzard 12-7 in the first period, the Tauros were finally able to break through with a big second frame. Colton Kramer opened the scoring with his 10th goal of the season on the power play with help from Howie and the newest Tauro Jordan Stejskal. The Tauros doubled the lead when Jake Johnson finished a two-on-one rush off of a nice feed from Scott Dornbrock. Howie then got his second point of the night when he scored on the power play to give the Tauros a 3-0 lead. Ryan Sete, scored on a shot from the outside with just 0:07 remaining in the second to get Brookings on the board, but the period belonged to the Tauros. With Brookings pressing down two in the third the Tauros were outshot 11-5 in the period, but with the Tauros on the rush Tanner Holmquist found a Kramer rebound and put it into the net to push the Tauros lead back up to three goals for a 4-3 final.
Next up for the Tauros is a three games in three days set which includes two road games. The Tauros open the stretch on Thursday with a game in Aberdeen with a chance to cut the Wings lead on the Tauros to four points. That game will be followed by a home and home set with the rival Bismarck Bobcats. Friday night’s game will be at the Maysa Arena before the teams head south on Highway 83 to play Saturday night in Bismarck. Ticket for Friday’s game are still available by clicking the tickets tab atop this page. Friday will also be SRT Communications Night. SRT will be giving the first 250 fans through the doors an SRT/Minotauros rally towel. Then after the game there will be a skate with the Tauros, young fans will get an SRT Minotauros poster for all 24 Tauros to sign.
Friday also marks the first game that the Tauros will be wearing the special USA Pride jerseys to show support for Team USA while they compete in Sochi. The Tauros will wear these jerseys for all three home games in the month of February and they will be auctioned off after the game on February 22nd, internet bidding will open on February 7th. For more details stay tuned to minotauroshockey.com