Stibbe looking forward to Tauros playoff push
On Friday, May 7, the Minot Minotauros faced off against the Bismarck Bobcats needing just one point in the standings to clinch a playoff berth. As it turned out, the Tauros got the point they were looking for.
Trailing 3-2 with under three minutes to go, Minot forward Brett Roloson took advantage of a power play opportunity with a score to tie the game. This play ultimately forced the game into overtime which gave the Tauros a playoff berth for the eighth consecutive year.
Earlier in the game, fellow Minot forward Cade Stibbe also made his presence felt offensively. The club’s leader in points recorded his 13th goal of the season which gave Minot an early 1-0 lead in the first period.
Prior to the Bismarck contest, Minot won its overtime game against the Austin Bruins 3-2 on May 1 thanks to a hat trick performance from Blaine Warnert. According to Stibbe, he believes the morale of the team is quite strong heading into the postseason due to the fact that multiple Minot players are capable of contributing on any given night.
“We just need to keep the energy up and keep playing our style of hockey,” Stibbe states. “We are a hard-nosed, gritty hockey team and we have to stay true to that identity.”
When it comes to matching up against NAHL Central Division runner up Bismarck in the playoffs, Stibbe, now in his second year with Minot, says the Bobcat defensemen are very skilled puck handlers, particularly near the blue line. In order to combat such slick puck handling, Stibble notes how important it will be for the Tauros to play with their trademark intensity.
“Our guys will have to come out and play with relentless team speed. We will also have to match their execution level for 60 minutes, and that will give us a great chance to win,” Stibbe adds.
Looking beyond the Bismarck series, there is a possibility that Minot may have to do battle with the first-place juggernaut Aberdeen Wings in the postseason. If a showdown with Aberdeen was to happen, Stibbe remains confident in his team’s chances to win the series as the Tauros are the only team to beat the Wings more than once this season.
Minot notched a 3-0 win over Aberdeen at the Maysa Arena on April 6, and also earned a 2-1 road victory over the Wings on March 17. Meanwhile, Minot’s leading point producer says it is Aberdeen’s well-structured system as well as their consistent execution that poses the most problems for the opposition. Stibbe adds that he looks forward to a potential matchup with the Wings as it would serve as a great measuring stick for where the Tauros are as a collective unit.
“Taking on the best competition, that is really what the playoffs are all about. We want to win the Robertson Cup this year and I think we have the guys who can do it. I hope we do get a chance to take on Aberdeen because a series with them would be an awesome challenge.”