Tauros look to finish season strong behind hot goalie

Ryan Ladika/MDN Minotauros goaltender Keenan Rancier has racked up 40 or more saves in seven games this year and believes his club is in prime position for a playoff push.

With 37 points through 38 games so far, the Minot Minotauros (16-17-4-1) currently occupy third place in the NAHL’s Central Division.

Although it has been a rollercoaster season for the Tauros with its share of ups and downs, the play of first-year goaltender Keenan Rancier has provided consistency and stability to the club. In 32 games, Rancier has accumulated a .919 save percentage and compiled a 16-13-2-1 record.

Having already won NAHL Goaltender of the Month back in October, as well as Central Division Star of the Week accolades that same month, Rancier signed a National Letter of Intent to play college hockey at Minnesota State-Mankato earlier this season.

Most recently, Rancier came up huge in Minot’s win over the first-place Aberdeen Wings (35-2-0-1) on March 17. In that game, he stopped 41 of 42 shots in a 2-1 victory which put an end to Aberdeen’s incredible 19-game winning streak. Having missed Minot’s previous series with Aberdeen due to a stomach flu on Feb. 19-20, Rancier says he was excited for the opportunity to do battle against the division leaders.

“My mindset was to just go out there and perform to the best of my abilities,” Rancier tells The Minot Daily News. “I like the challenge of playing against the best, you just have to know where the opposing players are at all times and take things one shot at a time.”

Unfortunately for Rancier and the Tauros, they went on to lose the next two games at home to Aberdeen, falling 6-1 on Friday and 4-3 on Saturday. Despite dropping the series to the Wings, Rancier recorded at least 40 saves in two of the three games. So far, the Minot netminder has eclipsed the 40-save mark in seven games this year.

“Friday wasn’t my best effort, and on Saturday we had a couple of bad bounces in the third period to lose the lead. Aberdeen is a highly structured and very skilled team, and they took advantage of those opportunities,” Rancier adds.

Up next for the Tauros, they plan to hit the road for a two-game set against the Austin Bruins this Friday and Saturday. After that, Minot will be on the road for another two-game set against the St. Cloud Norsemen on April 2-3 before wrapping up the regular season at home against Aberdeen on Tuesday, April 6.

As the Tauros get ready to play four of their next five on the road, Rancier says he feels the team is ready for this test.

“It’s been up and down this year for us, but I think we have really come together as a team these last few weeks,” Rancier continues. “I believe we are really starting to gel, and we are ready to make this late season push. It all starts with consistent work in practice and getting better every day.”


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