By Jeremy Pike, minotauroshockey.com Minot, ND –
The Minot Minotauros split the weekend series with the Aberdeen Wings after falling 4-2 Saturday night. Two third-period goals from Justin Dauphinais, his fourth and fifth tallies of the season, cut the Tauros’ deficit to one with three minutes to play, but an empty-net goal by Alexander Gullichsen with 1:20 left put the game out of reach.
Minot dropped to 8-5-0-0 on the season with 16 points and fall into a tie for second in the Central Division while the Wings improved to 6-5-1-2 and 15 points, good for fourth in the Central.
Aberdeen was able to stake themselves to a 2-0 lead through Landon Parker and Patrick O’Connell after the first period despite the Tauros outshooting them 6-0 through the first five minutes and 15-12 after the first. Minot had multiple chances in the first but Wings goalie Cole Moore made some big saves to keep Aberdeen in it through the first two-thirds of the first period.
The Tauros struggled to clear Aberdeen’s players out from in front of goalie Lawton Zacher on the first two goals which impacted his ability to effectively command his crease and see shots.
The second period got off to a good start for the Tauros as Parker, Aberdeen’s first goal scorer, got sent to the box for tripping, his second penalty of the game. However, the Wings’ penalty kill never let Minot’s power play unit get set up and comfortable, a theme for much of the game.
Despite pressure through the early goings, the Tauros never were able to fully set up in Aberdeen’s zone, instead getting shots on the rush. On one of those rush chances, the Wings caught Minot with too many men deep and went down on a two-on-one. O’Connell found Landry Schmuck crashing the back post and Schmuck was able to tap it past Zacher to make it 3-0 with 11:42 remaining in the second.
Less than four minutes later, chaos descended upon the Pepsi Rink ice. With the Tauros applying big pressure, Aberdeen was hemmed into their own zone and trying to break out. A back pass to one of the defensemen left Hunter Longhi zeroed in. Right after the defenseman played the puck, Longhi lined him up and dropped him with a big hit that was immediately called a penalty.
All weekend long, the Wings had been playing a physical brand of hockey, finishing every check and then some. This appeared to be a big yet clean hit, but the penalty was given. Then after the whistle, Aberdeen’s Jaxon Grosdidier charged Longhi and leveled him into the Wings’ crease then jumped on top of him. Multiple players piled in before the referees separated it.
Both Longhi and Grosdidier were given matching five-minute majors for head contact and 20-minute game misconducts and were ejected.
The chaos was not finished there, though. After the next play and ensuing whistle, Tauros defenseman Ben Johnson wanted a piece of the nearest Aberdeen player and was wrestled to the ground by the referees. Behind them, the replays showed that Wings player Luke Lindsay cross-checked a Minot player from behind, dropping him to the ice.
Colby Joseph was having none of that and immediately went after Lindsay, taking him down to the ice.
All three players were then assessed with four-minute double minors for roughing and 10-minute game misconducts, leaving the Tauros on a penalty kill.
They were able to kill that off and limit further damage in the second period, trailing by three going into the final period.
The third period started with both teams going back and forth without many major chances, then Lindsay found himself in the penalty box for tripping, his third tripping penalty of the night (but his fourth trip to the box including the second-period misconduct.)
While the Tauros could not capitalize directly on the power play, they were able to get sustained pressure. Only mere seconds after the penalty expired, Dauphinais found the bouncing puck out front and tucked it past Moore to make it 3-1.
Then with 3:30 left, the Tauros were back on the power play after another tripping penalty, this time against Parker who opened the night’s scoring. It only took Minot 30 seconds for Dauphinais to do it again. Another bouncing puck and Dauphinais was in the right place, just a few steps from where he scored his first goal of the night, to make it 3-2 with three minutes to go. The rink was rocking.
Despite the good effort in the third, the Tauros could not seal the deal and the late empty-netter from Gullichsen put the game out of reach for good.
Zacher finished the night with 27 saves on 30 shots while Moore stopped 35 of the 37 shots he faced.
On Friday night, the Tauros jumped out to a 2-0 lead after the first period, then needed an overtime game-winning goal from Trevor Stachowiak to put Aberdeen away 3-2.
The O’Hanisain brothers put on a show in the first period with Nick netting his sixth of the season on a one-timer in the slot from Longhi. Then Just over four minutes later, Jack flicked home a wrist shot from near the faceoff circle to Moore’s right to make it 2-0. John Emmons notched his first point as a Tauros with his first assist.
In a span of less than four minutes in the second period against the run of play, the Wings tied the game. O’Connell, who was a terror all weekend long, raced down the ice to Zacher’s right before flipping a puck out front that bounced in off Kyle Contessa. Then less than four minutes later, Owen Dubois pounced on the chaos in front of Zacher and punched in the tying goal.
Despite a flurry of 17 shots from the Tauros in the third, the game went to overtime. With 2:08 left in overtime, Stachowiak managed to cut around an Aberdeen defender, glide across the front of the goal, and fire a backhand shot past Moore to secure the win. Nick O’Hanisain and Joseph both got assists on the goal.
In total, Zacher stopped 50 of 55 shots he faced on the weekend, while Moore stopped 78 of 83 shots he saw.
Next up for the Tauros is a weekend set with the Bismarck Bobcats. The series kicks off in Bismarck on Friday night before shifting back to the Pepsi Rink at Maysa Arena on Saturday night. Saturday’s game against Bismarck will be a Skate With the Tauros night (click for more information on Skate With the Tauros). Tickets for this weekend’s games are available under the “Tickets” tab atop this page as well as by clicking here.