Minot, ND – Since the St. Cloud Blizzard snapped the Minotauros five-game winning streak on November 29th the Tauros have seemingly been stuck in neutral, going 5-5-1 since that loss. Certainly not a slide by any means but also a missed opportunity. While Bismarck has similarly earned 11 standings points going 4-3-3 the Tauros other potential playoff rivals Aberdeen and Austin have been hot. Aberdeen has pulled away going 9-0-1 in that time and are now seven points clear of second place Bismarck. Austin meanwhile has pulled even with the Tauros going 5-1-2 during that stretch.
This weekend the Tauros had a chance to kick-off another winning streak following last Tuesday’s win in Bismarck, last place St. Cloud at home provided a big opportunity. The Tauros have dominated St. Cloud (formerly Brookings) over the last five and a half seasons going 45-12-5 against the Blizzard.
Friday night followed that script, the Tauros outshot the Blizzard 48-26 and doubled the Blizzard up 6-3. The game started fairly evenly seesawing back-and-forth. Joseph Harguindeguy opened the scoring with his fifth of the season 8:15 into the game. Then with five minutes left in the first period the teams combined for three goals. Former Tauro Ryan Green scored his ninth of the season, four of which have come against the Tauros, to start the offensive outburst. Braeden Bartoo answered to restore the Tauro lead 22 second later only to have Bud Winter tie the game again just 17 seconds after that. Alex Murray then gave the Blizzard the lead late in the period.
The Tauros changed goalies to start the second period bringing Ben Garrity on in relief of AJ Ruskowski. Sam Skinner drew the Tauros even 5:33 into the second and Harguindeguy’s second of the night gave the Tauros the lead by the middle of the period. Cade Stibbe scored early in the third to add some insurance and then Harguindeguy completed the 13th hat trick in Tauro history with 9:07 to play to close out the scoring. Cole O’Connell assisted on four of the goals and Kevin Ness had three assists as the Tauros cruised to victory.
Saturday night, in search of the franchise’s 250th win, the Tauros came out flying early. Jay Buchholz had three grade-A chances but two stellar Tyler Bost saves and a post kept the Tauros off the board. Will Crull finally broke through for the Tauros with a power play goal 10:52 in when he collected his own rebound and fired it past Bost for his first goal as a Tauro. 30 seconds later however Zackery Diamont tied the game for St. Cloud. The second period saw the Blizzard capitalize on poor Tauro defensive coverage on back-to-back shifts. First Owen Belisle was left alone in front of Garrity to give the Blizzard the lead and then 25 seconds later Jack Suchy was left alone in front to double the lead.
The Tauros pushed back outshooting the Blizzard 49-26 overall for the game including 18-5 in the third but Bost was seemingly unbeatable. Kyler Kleven added his 15th goal of the season in the games waning moments to give the Tauros hope, but with just 19 seconds left to play the Tauros couldn’t find the equalizer. Saturday’s regulation loss was the Tauros first of the season when surrendering three or fewer goals to the opposition.
Next up for the Tauros is a visit from the Minnesota Wilderness. The Wilderness have not been to the Pepsi Rink at Maysa Arena yet this season. Through four meetings this season the Tauros are 2-1-1 against the Wilderness. Next weekend is Energy Appreciation Weekend and the Tauros will be wearing jerseys inspired by the hard-working members of the oil and gas industries. The jerseys will be auctioned off after the game on Saturday night. Tickets for both games are available through the “Tickets” tab atop this page.