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Garrity stands tall, Minotauros knock off Bobcats 2-1

Alex Eisen/MDN Minotauros forward Andranik Armstrong-Kingkade (21) shields off Bobcats forward Jack Conroy (19) in an NAHL hockey game Saturday evening at Maysa Arena in Minot.

Outnumbered six to three, the Minot Minotauros put their bodies on the line to secure a 2-1 rivalry victory over the Bismarck Bobcats Saturday evening at Maysa Arena.

Minot (22-12-5) killed off a pair of costly penalties in the final two minutes thanks to a little bit of luck and a lot of heart.

Bismarck (21-11-6), with its goalie pulled, went all-in but to no avail.

“Not ideal to get down 6-on-3 at the end,” Minotauros head coach Marty Murray said. “Your best penalty killer is your goaltender and (Ben Garrity) made some huge saves there. And besides that, we had some huge blocked shots. I think Will (Crull) had three or four himself. Guys laid it out on the line. Great to see that commitment at the end. I just wish we weren’t in that position.”

A hard-hitting first period was controlled by the goaltenders: Minot’s Ben Garrity and Bismarck’s Andrew Miller.

Garrity, however, blinked first with 29 seconds left in the period. Coming out of his net to poke the puck away, Garrity was unable to clear the danger. Adam Stacho took advantage by sneaking the puck in off the post behind a frantically retreating Garrity.

“It was a broken goal,” Garrity said. “It was an easy chip out for one of our defenseman, but it went off one of the stanchions. It went out into the slot, and I tried to clear it. They got it and scored.”

Minot needed one minute into the second period to find the equalizer. Sam Skinner skated into the zone, slammed on the brakes at the top of the left circle and found Kyler Kleven in the slot. Kleven beat Miller on his blocker side.

Miller found himself out of position with 11 minutes left in the second period.

A shot from the corner by Braeden Bartoo sent Miller diving to his left. The puck smacked the pipe and went across to the other side. Waiting for it was Cody Sherman, who had enough time to control the rebound and locate the glaring empty net.

It was Sherman’s first goal as a Minotauro in his seventh game. On Friday, Sherman also provided the game-winning assist to Crull in overtime despite tumbling down to the ice on the play.

“I’m excited to be with the Tauros,” Sherman said. “Marty Murray is giving me an opportunity to play in games. My brother played here and said it was a great spot to play at. I’ve felt very comfortable here, fortunate, love playing with the team and I think my line is working really well.”

Minot took its 2-1 lead into the third period. A couple of impressive saves by Garrity in the first minute of the final frame kept the Minotauros ahead.

The Bobcats didn’t let up, putting constant pressure on the Minotauros. Garrity stood his ground.

“We gave up a couple of grade-A chances at the start of the third,” Murray said. “(Garrity) made some huge saves. But, yeah, it was a little vanilla on our part tonight. I thought we didn’t create enough. Give credit to Bismarck; they were shorthanded with two (defensemen) playing as forwards. We needed to create more, but we didn’t.”

With 2:17 remaining, Minot’s Joseph Harguindeguy was caught holding. Then, 36 seconds later, Andranik Armstrong-Kingkade was sent to the penalty box on a questionable interference call that drew heavy boos from the home crowd.

“Last couple of minutes, some shaky calls,” Sherman said. “But, it’s a no-brainer why our goalie got the first star. He was playing off his head. It’s good to have him back and healthy.”

The Bobcats hit the post and crossbar before deciding to pull Miller for a three-man advantage.

Garrity and his courageous penalty killers blocked around five shots in the final 30 seconds to secure the 2-1.

“Honestly, I was just hoping my guys would pull up and block shots for me, which they did,” Garrity said. “It’s a tough spot to be in with two minutes left, but we all beared down and got the win.”

The Minotauros will host the Austin Bruins next weekend on Jan. 31 and Feb. 1 at Maysa Arena.

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

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