By Jeremy Pike, minotauroshockey.com Minot, ND – The Minotauros and the Aberdeen Wings split the weekend with the Tauros taking home the 4-0 victory Friday night and Aberdeen winning Saturday night 5-2.
The weekend got off to a good start with Adam Mahler opening the scoring Friday night less than nine minutes into the game. The Tauros had good pressure and were cycling the puck. Jack O’Hanisain found Hunter Longhi on the half wall to the right of Aberdeen goalie Geno Pichora. Longhi then sent the puck back to the point to Adam Mahler, who walked a few strides in from the blue line before wristing a shot through traffic and past Pichora for the 1-0 lead. That was Mahler’s fourth goal of the season with Longhi getting his 30th assist and O’Hanisain getting his third. The Tauros controlled the first period and outshot Aberdeen 15-10.
The second period in Friday’s contest was more even in the shot department with both teams recording only eight shots. What made those shot totals even more surprising was that there were five penalties in the period, three by Aberdeen and two by the Tauros. Neither team was able to take advantage of the power play opportunities, but the physical battle was building throughout the period.
The third period saw the intensity building, but it took more than half the period before there was any change in the scoreboard. Then the changes came in a flurry.
It began with Hunter Longhi pouncing on a bouncing puck just below the faceoff dot to Pichora’s right. Somehow, his cannon of a shot squeaked in high just between the post and the goalie to make it 2-0. Mahler earned his third assist of the season and Joe Blackley had his eighth. On the ensuing faceoff, the Tauros gained possession and worked their way through the neutral zone. Moments later, 11 seconds after Longhi scored, Justin Dauphinais beat Pichora to make it 3-0 with his 11th goal of the season. Trevor Stachowiak, the newly-named 12th captain in team history, and Nick O’Hanisain both earned their 16th assist of the season on the goal.
Then with under a minute remaining in the game and the Tauros on the power play, Longhi spun around just above the goal line to throw the puck in the direction of Chase LaPinta who was hunting for a goal to extend his scoring streak. However, instead of the puck going towards the back post where LaPinta was lurking, the puck went short side and somehow got through for Longhi’s second of the game and 14th of the season. It was the Tauros’ only power-play goal of the game on six attempts.
Tauros goalie Lawton Zacher was perfect on the night, stopping all 30 of the shots he faced including stopping Aberdeen on all six of their power plays. It was his second career shutout with the Tauros.
LaPinta was unable to extend his goal-scoring streak Friday but not for lack of trying. He unofficially had seven shots on goal and was a dynamic offensive force. As for streaks, Longhi was able to extend his point streak to 14 games, tying the Tauros record.
Saturday night was a different story on almost all fronts. Just over halfway through the first period, the Wings got on the board for the first time on the weekend when Kyle Contessa banged home a rebound during a goal-mouth scramble.
It would take exactly 3:01 for the Tauros to respond. Jack O’Hanisain gained the zone before dropping the puck to Spencer Klotz. Klotz spotted Nick Sewecke streaking in to make it an odd-man rush, and Klotz flipped the puck through the defense. The puck found its way to Sewecke’s stick and he was able to tap it in around Wings goalie Cole Moore to make it 1-1. It was his third goal of the season, O’Hanisain’s fourth assist of the season, and Klotz’s first assist of the season with the Tauros.
A similar length of time went by before Aberdeen retook the lead off Dylan Wegner’s stick with less than three minutes left in the first.
With just under a minute and a half left in the first, the Tauros were on the power play for the first time. Unlike last night, LaPinta would not miss his opportunity. With 56 seconds left, the puck squirted out front and LaPinta latched onto the puck to the right of Moore. He was able to calmly flip the puck into the open net for his 19th of the season. Longhi got his 31st assist of the season and Blackley picked up his ninth of the season.
The Tauros outshot Aberdeen by a slim 14-12 margin but had to feel good about bouncing back through LaPinta.
Unfortunately, the good feelings would come to an end by the time the horn sounded to mark the end of the second period. Despite outshooting Aberdeen 15-8, the only pucks that found the back of the net were from the sticks of the Wings. Moore was able to keep the Tauros at bay through the first half of the period before some bounces went the way of Aberdeen.
However, it did look like the Tauros would take their first lead of the night when Dauphinais flipped a puck up and over Moore. However, right before that, a Tauros player caught the rebound in his glove and dropped it in front of himself in the crease. Unfortunately, the refs ruled that Dauphinais was the first Tauros player to touch the puck when he scored, not the original player. Therefore it was a hand pass and no goal. With no video replay, the call stood, and even the replays could not make a definitive case to overturn the call. So the game remained tied.
Then with 5:30 left in the second, the Tauros failed to keep possession when entering the Aberdeen zone and the puck found its way to the Wings’ Patrick O’Connell at the Tauros blue line. He beat the lone defender and raced in on goalie Erik Chaffe. Somehow after cutting along the crease, O’Connell was able to reach back and slip it past Chaffee to break the deadlock.
Then Aberdeen tightened the screws on the Tauros. They were able to establish possession and cycle the puck around before working the puck back to the point and defenseman Zachary Reim. He threw the puck on net through a screen and it bounced past Chaffee to make it 4-2 less than two minutes later.
The third period was a struggle as both teams only were able to get six shots apiece. Neither team could solve the goalies and the Wings only picked up their fifth goal on an empty net with under a minute to play.
While Saturday night did not go the way for the Tauros, Longhi was able to extend his streak to 15, setting the Tauros record for most consecutive games with at least one point.
With the weekend split and the other results in the division on the weekend, the Tauros find themselves sitting in second with 40 points, one point ahead of the Wings.
Next up the Tauros have a rare weekend off followed by another home set this time against the first place Austin Bruins. The Tauros will be celebrating Liberty Tax Superhero Weekend, fans are encouraged to come dressed as their favorite superhero. Additionally the Tauros will be looking to celebrate local everyday heroes, nominated your Minot Superhero here. Tickets for the weekend are available through the “Tickets” tab atop this page or by visiting tickets.minotauroshockey.com!