By: Ken Oda, minotauroshockey.com
Minot, ND – The Minotauros came limping into the weekend having dropped seven straight games, their last win coming on December 20th at home against Wenatchee. The slump had allowed the Brookings Blizzard to crawl within two point of the Tauros in the battle for the fourth and final playoff spot. With Brookings in town on Saturday night with a chance to draw even followed by a Sunday date with the rival Bismarck Bobcats this weekend was probably the biggest of the Tauros season to date.
On Saturday night the Tauros carried the play against the Blizzard, out-shooting Brookings 29-10 through the first 40 minutes. Only the strong play of Connor Girard in the Blizzard net kept the Tauros from opening up a big lead and the teams entered the third period tied 0-0. Then early in the third Scott Smoot finally solved Girard after being set-up by Wesley Iverson to give the Tauros a 1-0 lead. Brandon Wildung made all six third period saves required of him for his third shutout of the season.
The Tauros followed Saturday’s strong defensive performance with another on Sunday. The Bobcats took a 1-0 lead late in the first after Nate Repensky’s shot from the blue line trickled through Wildung after he made the initial save and seemed to have the puck pinned to the post. The second would pass scoreless and the Tauros would enter the third period trailing 1-0 despite out-shooting the Bobcats 23-13 through the first 40 minutes. The period started poorly for the Tauros who were whistled for a pair of tripping penalties in the first five minutes. With Jake Howie in the box serving the second of the two minors Max Pernhem cleared a puck to the neutral zone. Colton Kramer picked up the puck at the red line and streaked toward the Bobcat cage and fired a shot past Scott Albertoni to score a shorthanded goal and draw the Tauros even. Then with only 1:10 remaining in regulation the Tauros took the lead when Alexander Kasitsyn scored on a 3-on-2 rush converting a nice feed from Tanner Holmquist. The Bobcats pulled Albertoni but the Tauros defense held allowing only one shot on goal over the final 1:10 to earn the win.
Next up for the Tauros is a road trip to Aberdeen to take on the Wings. Then on Tuesday January 28th, the Tauros will host the Brookings Blizzard. Tickets for that game are still available by clicking on the tickets tab atop this page.