By: Ken Oda, minotauroshockey.com
Minot, ND – Playing their fourth game in five nights in three different cities it would have been easy for the Minotauros to give less than full effort on Saturday night. This is especially true once Austin and Bismarck won earlier in the night to lock in the Central Division playoff seeding. Instead the Tauros bounced back from a 1-0 loss in Aberdeen the night before and gave the Minot faithful a win in the final home game of the regular season.
Nate Pionk (1g 1a) scored his first goal as a Tauro just 4:22 into the game off of a feed from Blake Lizotte (14g 38a). Pionk, who played two games earlier in the season with the Tauros as an affiliate player, has looked good in six games since joining the Tauros full time at the end of the Minnesota high school season. In that time he has posted a goal, an assist, and a plus one rating. Late in the frame Kyle Haak (19g 34a) drew the Wings even beating Tanner Holmes (9-3-1, 2.42 gaa, .899 sv%) at 16:12 of the period.
The Tauros broke the game open early in the second. John Snodgrass (15g 15a) scored on a wrist shot from the slot with the Tauros on the power play to restore the Tauros lead at 3:40 of the period. 2:02 later Jake Dittel (5g 8a) scored on a shot from the blue line to extend the Tauros lead. Victor Ostling (7g 13a) scored in the middle of the period to cut the lead back down to one but Holmes made several highlight reel stops in the third to preserve the lead and get the Tauros the win.
Once the Austin Bruins beat Brookings and the Bismarck Bobcats topped the Minnesota Wilderness the Central Division standings were locked in. The Bruins will finish in first followed in order by the Tauros, Bobcats, Wings, and Blizzard; the result is that the Tauros and Bobcats will meet in the playoffs for the first time. Playoff ticket information will be posted on minotauroshockey.com shortly.