Minot, ND – The Minotauros bounced back from an embarrassing defeat on Friday night with a win on Saturday night to stay three points ahead of the Austin Bruins for first place in the central division. Friday’s loss to last place Brookings certainly was not a reason to panic but it did serve as a reminder that every team in the Central can punish their opponents for anything less than a full effort. Even with the loss the Tauros remain one of the hottest teams in the NAHL going 8-2-0 over their last ten contests.
Friday night (box score) the Tauros controlled the puck early and struck first when Kyle Oleksiuk scored his fifth of the season 8:34 in to the game. Having outscored the Blizzard 25-4 through the first four meetings of the season it appeared that the Tauros were well on their way to another easy win. Vince Marino had other plans however scoring twice for Brookings just 21 seconds apart late in the first to give Brookings the lead heading into the intermission. A shorthanded goal from Bud Winter 2:03 into the second followed by former Tauro Ryan Green scoring at 3:44 had the Tauros in a 4-1 hole. A John Kaljian goal with just nine seconds left in the middle stanza seemed to put the game out of reach. Nick Strom scored early in the third to potentially give the Tauros life but Kendrick Frost snuffed that out with two more Brookings goals before the final horn for a 7-2 final.
Saturday (box score) night the Tauros pushed back in a big way with a win that was not as close as the 5-4 score alone shows. The Tauros again dominated play early but this time it was Brookings who struck first when Owen Belisle scored his third of the season 8:31 into the game. David Raisanen drew the Tauros even with his seventh of the season late in the first, a period in which the Tauros outshot the Blizzard 17-5. James Orr gave the Blizzard their second lead of the night in the second but Taylor Lantz, playing his first game back from injury, answered stealing a puck in the offensive zone and snapping it past George McBey to draw the Tauros even. The wild period continued with Kevin Ness giving the Tauros their first lead of the night scoring his first goal as a Tauro on the rush; 20 seconds later however Kaljian answered for the Blizzard. Wilmer Skoog restored the Tauro lead at 17:50 but by 18:21 Gabe Wahl had drawn the Blizzard even at 4-4. The game, or at least the goaltenders, settled down in the third as the 4-4 stalemate held until late in the game. Despite the close score the Tauros outshot the Blizzard 53-18 over the course of the game but it was not until Andrew Kangas eventually found the game winner with just under four minutes to play that the Tauros earned a weekend split.
Next up for the Tauros is a weekend series with the Aberdeen Wings at the Maysa Arena. Friday is “Pack the Pepsi” night sponsored by Pepsi of Minot! The Tauros will be unveiling their new alternate jerseys which will be worn sporadically through the rest of the season. Additionally every fan will receive a free scratch card with a chance to win $10,000 every card has a potential winning combination on it. The first fan to correctly scratch their card and turn it in to the Maysa Arena press box will win the $10,000 prize. Saturday night is sponsored by Farmer’s Insurance Agent Miranda Schuler, who will be giving away Tauros magnet schedules.