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Minotauros defeat Bobcats, 3-2, advance to Central Division Cup final

BISMARCK – After a slow first two periods, the No. 2-seeded Minot Minotauros emerged victorious from a wild final three minutes to secure a 3-2 win over the No. 3-seeded Bismarck Bobcats and advance to the quarterfinals of the Robertson Cup Playoffs to play for another Central Division Cup.

Neither team managed to separate themselves in the first two periods as Sam Skinner got the Minotauros on the board first with a goal thanks to assists from Taylor Lantz and Matthew Gellerman. But the Bobcats responded in the second period.

Bismarck’s Jacob Marti knotted the score in the closing minutes by sneaking the puck past Minot goalie Nicholas Grabko to force a stalemate entering the final period.

Both teams remained deadlocked at one goal apiece until the 17th minute when Didrik Henbrant placed a shot into the back of the net on the power play to give the Minotauros a late 2-1 edge. Determined to keep their season alive, the Bobcats made one last push.

With 33 seconds left in regulation, Bismarck’s Adam Stacho delivered the equalizer. The game appeared to be heading for overtime, but Lantz caught the Bobcats’ defense snoozing.

Just 13 seconds after the game-tying goal, Lantz gathered a pass from Andrew Kangas and Keenan Lund and sent a shot past Bismarck goalie John Roberts to make it a 3-2 contest. Bismarck had no more late-game magic left, and the Minotauros held on for the series sweep.

Minot tallied 26 shots on goal compared to Bismarck’s 25, and Grabko finished with 23 saves in the win.

The Minotauros will face the winner of the No. 1-seeded Aberdeen Wings and the No. 4-seeded Austin Bruins in the quarterfinals. The Wings currently hold a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five game series.

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