Minotauros obliterate Blizzard, set new franchise record with 11 goals

Alex Eisen/MDN Hats are flung onto the ice at Maysa Arena after Minotauros forward Kyler Kleven (6) nets a hat trick Saturday evening against the St. Cloud Blizzard in Minot.

Twenty-four hours after having a five-game winning streak snapped, the Minot Minotauros ruthlessly steamrolled the St. Cloud Blizzard off the ice at Maysa Arena on Saturday.

The Minotauros (14-5-3) set a new franchise single-game record for goals scored in a historic 11-4 beatdown of the Blizzard (6-13-4).

“Hockey is a funny game,” Minotauros head coach Marty Murray said. “Sometimes, when you get a couple, the floodgates open. I think that was the case tonight. Last night (on Friday), I thought we had a lot of good looks in that second period, and we couldn’t buy (a goal).”

After netting a hat trick on Friday, Blizzard forward Brady Bjork opened the scoring 7:29 into the first period on Saturday. His fourth goal in four periods.

The Minotauros, however, only needed 10 seconds to find the equalizer. Cade Stibbe, who also scored on Friday, got to the front of the net and finished off a scoring chance created by Ville Immonen.

Nevertheless, another Minotauros’ defensive breakdown left goaltender A.J. Ruskowski in no man’s land with a pair of Blizzard skaters in front of the net. Jack Suchy didn’t waste his opportunity to score a simple tap-in to break a goal-scoring slump.

Suchy’s first goal in 13 games gave the Blizzard a 2-1 lead going into the second period.

“I didn’t like our first period again,” Murray said. “The second period was a wild one. Back and forth. Then, we made some plays in the third period to secure the win.”

After needing a whole period to score three goals, the two teams combined to score three more goals in the first two and a half minutes of the second period.

Kyler Kleven scored two straight for the Minotauros at the 1:28 and 2:03 mark. Jay Buchholz assisted both goals.

“My linemates Jay Buchholz and Dan Russell were just making great passes,” Kleven said. “Losing yesterday kind of hurt, so we came out today, and we were all pumped up to play.”

Minot’s 3-2 lead lasted for a solid 24 seconds before Suchy struck again for his second goal of the game for the Blizzard.

The Minotauros’ second lead lasted a tad longer, but not by much.

Lurking at the side of the net, Stibbe lifted the puck up and off the post for the Minotauros’ fourth goal and his second of the game.

St. Cloud’s Ryan O’Neil poached a rebound goal one minute and 46 seconds later to even the score again at 4-4.

Minot’s third lead came courtesy of Dan Russell on a wraparound goal after he collected a rebound off a shot taken by Andranik Armstrong-Kingkade.

This one-goal, 5-4 lead made it back to the locker room for the second intermission.

“I think our defenseman were squeezing their sticks a little bit and didn’t have a lot of confidence in making plays,” Murray said. “So, in return, we played a little more than we wanted to in our end. But we adjusted well throughout the game.”

Jack Westlund increased the Minotauros’ advantage to two with a close-range snipe over the shoulder of Blizzard goaltender Sam Metcalf with four minutes elapsed in the third period.

A little over a minute later, Minot defenseman Hunter Bjorge got on the scoresheet with a shot from the point that snuck through.

The Minotauros weren’t finished yet.

Westlund scored his second goal of the period by banked the puck off the backside of Metcalf from behind the net, 8-4.

Kleven’s hat trick tally — the 12th hat trick in Minotauros’ history — broke the franchise record for most goals in a single game. A flurry of hats landed on the ice in celebration.

“It means more that our team won today,” Kleven said about his hat trick performance. “It’s cool that I got three goals. But, as long as the team wins, that’s all that matters.”

Two more Minot goals — Armstrong-Kingkade and Russell — and two separate fights brought the high-scoring, entertaining affair to an end at 11-4.

Despite the outrageous scoreline, the Blizzard outshot the Minotauros 41-39. Metcalf gave up eight goals before being replaced by Tyler Bost in net for the Blizzard. Ruskowski stopped 37 shots for Minot.

“We still need to tighten up a little bit,” Murray said. “Giving up 40-plus shots is something we want to address. But we made a lot of nice plays offensively tonight.”

Minot has a home-and-home series against the Bismarck Bobcats this upcoming week. The Minotauros will play in Bismarck first on Wednesday (Dec. 6) before the rematch in Minot on Thursday (Dec. 7).

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