Minotauros rally for a 5-2 home opener win

Alex Eisen/MDN Minot Minotauros goaltender Nicholas Grabko saves a shot by Bismarck Bobcats forward Hunter Johannes (27) in the first period of Minot's home opener Saturday evening at Maysa Arena.

Showing off the newly acquired Central Cup championship banner, the new-look Minot Minotauros took to the ice for the first time this season in front of their home supporters.

Despite a slow start and going down 2-0, the Minotauros (6-2-0) recovered to win 5-2 in a thrilling home opener Saturday night against the Bobcats (5-3-0) at Maysa Arena.

“It was entertaining,” Minotauros coach Marty Murray said. “I thought the first half of the game, maybe the first two periods, we weren’t that strong and didn’t play with a lot of energy. Then, we had a fire there in the third (period). It was nice to execute on some plays. We will take the win, but we got to work on having consistency for 60 minutes.”

A calm first seven minutes heated up when Minotauros defenseman Brennan Couet instigated a confrontation in front of Minot’s bench and was given a roughing minor.

The Bobcats used the first penalty of the game to score the opening goal with under 30 seconds left in the power play opportunity. Alex Pollock knocked in a loose puck at the side of the net to beat Minotauros goaltender Nicholas Grabko, who was out of position.

Tempers flared again with 5:07 left in the first period and the end result was another 5-on-4 power play for the Bobcats.

Minot killed off this man advantage for Bismarck to keep the deficit at 1-0 entering the first intermission. The Minotauros had a handful of scoring chances at the end of the period, but couldn’t find the equalizer.

After killing off two consecutive penalties to start the second period, the Minotauros went down 2-0 on a redirection in front of the goal by Niki Jasko.

Bismarck, also finding the penalty box, handed the Minotauros a 39-second 5-on-3 power play with under five minutes to play in the second stanza.

The Minotauros capitalized to score its first goal of the season at home.

Didrik Henbrant teed up a Keenan Lund shot from the slot that clipped the goalpost and went in. Lund’s fourth goal of the season had Minot down 2-1 and in striking distance going into the third period.

“When you are dealing with teenaged kids, it’s hard as a coach (on trying to figure out) how to motivate them,” Murray said. “But, we get that first one and then tie it up, the bench gets energized and guys feed off that. I think that was the case in the third period.”

Needing a goal, Henbrant unloaded a one-timer past Bismarck goaltender John Roberts 3:41 into the third period. David Raisanen provided a perfect cross-ice pass to set up Henbrant.

Cheers at Maysa Arena quickly turned to boos, as Couet was sent to the penalty box again on a questionable hooking call.

Ten seconds into Couet’s penalty, Maysa Arena erupted once again.

Minotauros captain Fritz Belisle broke free and finished off a short-handed breakaway to put Minot in the lead for the first time, 3-2.

The game-winning goal was Belisle’s fourth goal of the season.

With 4:17 remaining, Lund deposited the dagger on a pass across the net from Conner McGinnis. His second goal of the game and an empty netter by Raisanen sealed a 5-2 come from behind win.

The Minotauros go from one Central Division rival to the next as they face the Aberdeen Wings on the road next weekend.

Alex Eisen covers Minot State athletics, the Minot Minotauros and high school sports. Follow him on Twitter @AEisen13.