By Jeremy Pike minotauroshockey.com Minot, ND –
The Minotauros entered the weekend tied with the Aberdeen Wings for second place in the Central Division, but a pair of regulation losses dropped the Tauros down to fourth in the division.
On Saturday night, things got off to a rough start as the Wings dominated the early proceedings, outshooting Minot 11-3 through the first 10 minutes and putting two past starting Tauros goaltender Noah Rupprecht courtesy of Alexander Gullischen. Head coach Cody Campbell made the call to pull Rupprecht and brought in Lawton Zacher who had started Friday night’s game.
The goalie change seemed to spark something for the Tauros, quite possibly what Campbell was looking for. While they continued to struggle to put the puck past Cole Moore who started in net both games, the Tauros looked more alive after the switch, outshooting the visitors 7-2 over the second portion of the period.
The shot dominance continued in the second, but the Wings stretched their lead to 3-0 less than four and a half minutes into the second on the power play with Weston Knox in the box thanks to Roope Tuomioksa.
However, the Tauros would respond emphatically.
At the 10:29 mark, the Tauros captain Trevor Stachowiak got the hosts on the board on the power play. Knox’s shot from just inside the blue line fell to Braden Fischer who returned from injury this weekend. His low effort was redirected by Stachowiak past Moore for his 10th of the season. Fischer got his fourth assist while Knox added his 10th helper of the season.
Just over four minutes later, the Tauros struck again on the power play, this time on a 5-on-3. Fischer crashed the net on a goal-mouth scramble from Hunter Longhi and Stachowiak’s work for his third of the season. Then less than a minute later with the Tauros still on the man advantage, Longhi unleashed a laser that Fischer got a touch on to get it past Moore for his second of the night and fourth of the season. Both Longhi and Stachowiak got the assists again, bringing Longhi’s season total to 36 and Stachowiak’s to 17.
In all, the second period saw seven total penalties and four power-play goals with the Tauros outshooting Aberdeen 15-6.
Comparatively, the third period was much less eventful. It only saw two penalties, both on the Wings. Unfortunately for the Tauros, they reverted to their earlier power-play struggles on the weekend and failed to take advantage of either advantage.
The Wings, however, solved Zacher one final time almost halfway through the period on a quick shot by Owen Dubois that found the far post and redirected in. Even with the two power-play opportunities and Zacher pulled for the final 1:27 of the game, the Wings still outshot the Tauros 11-5 in the period.
Friday night was a tale of bounces for both teams as the Wings won 4-1. Chase LaPinta opened the scoring almost halfway through the first period, his 23rd of the season, with assists from Longhi and John Emmons, his 13th of the season. The goal came against the run of play as the Wings outshot the Tauros 18-4 in the period.
The second period was much more even in the shot department with the Wings only outshooting the Tauros 12-10. However, Aberdeen was able to tie the game just over five minutes into the period when Tuomioksa was able to flip the puck past Zacher on a scramble.
Shot-wise, the Tauros dominated the third period 22-7. However, they failed to take advantage of three power-play opportunities as part of an 0-for-5 night with the man advantage. Meanwhile, the Wings put three of their seven shots in the back of the net. With 6:43 remaining in the game, the Wings won a battle in the corner and sent the puck out into the high slot where Zachary Reim was able to rip a one-timer past Zacher.
Then just over two minutes later, the Wings took advantage of Adam Mahler in the box with a power play goal by Logan Gravink.
The final goal did not come against Zacher as he was off the ice for the extra attacker, but Nikolai Tishkevich’s empty-netter still counted on the scoreboard. That goal came with LaPinta lying on the ice in the Wings’ end, and he had to be helped off the ice. He did not appear in Saturday night’s game and his status is unclear at the moment.
Next up the Tauros head to St. Cloud to take on the Norsemen. Both Friday and Saturday night’s games start at 7:00 p.m. with the Farmers Union Pregame Show starting at 6:45 p.m. After the weekend series in St. Cloud the Tauros will take on the Bismarck Bobcats in a home-and-home set that starts in Bismarck and then shifts to the Maysa on Saturday February 25th. Tickets for that game and all remaining home games are available through the “Tickets” tab atop this page or by visiting tickets.minotauroshockey.com!