With the playoffs just around the corner and a Central Division title within reach, Thursday’s contest had plenty at stake for Minot Minotauros.
And the Tauros took full advantage of their home-ice advantage.
Minot scored three times in the final period, including twice from Max Reisinger en route to a 4-0 win over Bismarck at Maysa Arena. With victory, the Tauros lead the Bobcats by two points atop the division standings.
With just four contests remaining in the regular season, the Tauros need all the points they can get to hold off the Bobcats – who still have two games in hand, including two this weekend against Brookings.
The Tauros are now assured of a top-two seed in the upcoming Central Division playoffs, and will enjoy home-ice advantage in the first round.
“It’s a big win,” Minot coach Marty Murray said. “But they are all big wins at this time of year.”
The Tauros got a goal from Tyler Jeanson at the 4:59 mark of the opening period. He was assisted by Zack Bross and Austin Martinsen. Minot outshot the Bobcats 14-6 in the first 20 minutes, and brought a 1-0 lead into first intermission.
But things changed in the second.
The momentum shifted to the corner of the Bobcats, who outshot the Tauros 13-6 in the period. Bismarck was helped in the stanza by three power-play opportunities, all of which came up empty.
“We had a good first period, and they pushed hard in the second,” Murray said. “And we were able to capitalize on some plays in the third.”
Reisinger made it 2-0 just 50 seconds into the third period, a power-play marker assisted by James LaDouce and Troy Degler. Reisinger later added his second of the period at the 13:08 mark, and was assisted by Jack Murphy.
“(Reisinger) was a little frustrated after the first two periods,” Murray said. “He came out and put it behind him.”
Reisinger’s goals were sandwiched around a goal from Chase Springman, scored at 6:30 of the third.
“We played pretty well,” Murray said. “At times, we played a little too much in our end.”
Minot goaltender Gunner Rivers stopped all 30 shots he faced.
Bismarck goalkeeper Hunter Shepard stopped 26 of the 29 shots he faced. In the third period, he was benched in favor of backup Nick Althaus, who stopped two of three shots.
Minot hosts Austin next weekend.
Mark Jones covers high schools sports and general assignments. Follow him on Twitter @hoopsfan27_MDN.