Throughout their inaugural season and stretching to the beginning of this year, it was rare that the Minot Minotauros sent their fans home with a victory.
Now, at the halfway point of the season, it's become unusual when the Tauros drop a game at Maysa Arena. But it happened Saturday night as Minot fell to Brookings 7-4 and settled for a weekend split against the Blizzard.
Brookings (16-12-2) received goal contributions from two of its newer skaters in Aidan Cavalinni and Conor Andrie. Entering Saturday's game, Cavalinni and Andrie had one goal combined in six games. The two tallied four goals in the second period alone.
Minotauros forward Lucas Oliver tries to elude a Brookings (S.D.) defender during Minot’s 7-4 loss on Saturday at Maysa Arena.
"He played excellent," Brookings coach Cory Laylin said of Cavalinni. "He finished the plays he needed to finish and finished his checks. He played well when he didn't have the puck and he played well when he did have the puck."
Unlike Friday's contest where Minot (16-14-2) led after the first period, the Tauros surrendered two goals early in the opening stanza and were in catchup mode for the remainder of the contest.
"They wanted it more," Minot coach Marty Murray said of Brookings. "It was clear from the get go. We didn't have near as many guys going as we should have. We're the type of team where if we don't have everybody going, we're in trouble."
Brookings took the lead two minutes, 18 seconds into the game on a rebound goal by Tyler Cayemberg. Minot goaltender Tyler Parks made the initial save on Brookings' Craig Lindegard, but couldn't control the rebound, allowing Cayemberg to lift a shot over Parks' stick-side shoulder.
The Blizzard struck again a little over six minutes later while on the power play. Eric Brenk - Brookings second leading goal scorer - redirected a shot from the blue line by Drew Brevig to take a two-goal lead into the first period intermission.
"It was for sure a must-win game for us," Laylin said. "We played well in both games and I give credit to Minot. They played a gritty style. Every second they're right in your face."
Cavalinni and Andrie took over from there. Andrie scored his first goal of the season just 1:17 into the second period and Cavalinni countered Minot's goal scorers the rest of the frame. Cavalinni's three goals in the final 8:30 of the stanza canceled out goals by Minot's Cameron Rowat and Collin Abitz.
"I think we were a little loose in the dressing room before the game, but that just comes from winning I guess," Rowat said. "We have to get our heads turned around and get focused for Bismarck."
Cavalinni's second goal with 1:52 left in the second period was the end of Parks' night in net for the Tauros. Ryan Ruck replaced Parks, which didn't cool off Cavalinni, who scored on the Blizzards' first shot against the new goaltender. Ruck finished strong, making five stops in the third period.
The Tauros made things interesting with two quick third-period goals, but Brookings goaltender Drew Weigman and the Blizzard hung on for the victory. Weigman finished with 35 saves to earn the victory.
Saturday's loss drops the Tauros back into a tie for third place with Brookings in the NAHL Central Division, which is where the stood entering the two-game series.
"Just very disappointed at home to come out and play the way we did," Murray said. "We had some great efforts from some guys, and then some guys really let us down tonight."
The Tauros travel to rival Bismarck on Monday. Game time is 7:15 p.m.