By: Ken Oda, minotauroshockey.com
Minot, ND – The Minotauros and Blizzard had not met since the Tauros’ home opening weekend in October. The lack of familiarity did little to diminish the hostility between the clubs as there were several big hits by each side and 88 penalty minutes over the two games. In the end the Tauros came away with four points on two very different wins.
Friday night (full box) saw an open game with the teams combining for 71 shots on goal, thanks in part to Brookings having seven power plays. The Tauros only had two chances on the man advantage though one was an extended five minute power play after Christian Canavati was ejected for a late high hit (highlight) on Matt Jennings (9g 18a) less than four minutes into the game. Zack Bross (9g 17a) scored on the ensuing power play to give the Tauros a 1-0 lead at 7:42 (highlight). Gunner Rivers (11-8-3) stopped all 39 Brookings shots to earn his second shutout as a Tauro. Since being acquired in a trade from Odessa, Rivers has gone 4-0-2 with a 1.63 GAA and .947 SV% by allowing just 10 goals on 187 shots. The shutout for Rivers was key to the Tauros as they were unable to score any insurance goals and held on to win 1-0.
Saturday night’s (full box) game got off to an inauspicious start with the Blizzard scoring on the game’s first shot just 25 seconds into the game on a long distance shot through traffic (highlight). The Tauros however carried the play for the remainder of the period outshooting the Blizzard 16-6 and drawing even on Austin Martinsen’s (16g 11a) fifth power play goal on the season (highlight). The Tauros took the lead in the second when defenseman James LaDouce (9g 20a) jumped in on the rush just as a penalty expired and scored from the slot (highlight). The Tauros had a chance to pull away at the start of the third after Connor Spetz (1g 8a) was called for a five minute major and ejected for his high stick of Tauro forward Max Reisinger (8g 20a); however were unable to cash in on the prolonged power play. The failed man advantage did not prevent the Tauros from tacking on plenty of insurance in the final frame though as they rattled off four more goals before the final horn. Christian Mohs (14g 24a) (highlight), Derek Frentz (12g 15a) (highlight), Jared Brandt (4g 18a) (highlight), and Matt Jennings (9g 18a) (highlight) all scored to push the final to 6-1 as Lucas Murray (14-10-1) stopped 22 shots after allowing the game opening goal.
Next up for the Tauros is another weekend set with the Blizzard, this time in Brookings. The Tauros remain tied atop the Central Division with the Bismarck Bobcats with 57 points. The pair of losses combined with the Aberdeen Wings’ sweep of the Austin Bruins sees the Wings move ahead Brookings into the Central’s final playoff spot. The Tauros “magic number” of wins or Brookings losses to clinch a playoff spot is now seven.