Minotauros earn first win 5-2 over IceRays
After a season-opening shutout loss Wednesday evening, new Minot Minotauros head coach Cody Campbell thought his team was just a bit too excited for the first game of the new campaign and pressed a bit too much in their scoring opportunities.
Minot (1-1-0-0) expelled its early-season jitters Thursday morning, as a pair of first-period power play goals boosted the Minotauros to their first win of the 2021-22 season by a 5-2 final score over the Corpus Christi IceRays (0-2-0-0) on the second day of the 2021 NAHL Showcase in Blaine, Minnesota.
“We started really, really fast, and I thought we dictated the pace that the game was played at for the majority of the first two periods,” Campbell said. “We were able to build ourselves up a good enough lead to finish the job. It was good to earn two points today.”
Minot was unable to finish any of their Wednesday scoring chances, but still outshot the Lone Star Brahmas 30-22 after three periods. The team brought the same energy into its Thursday contest as well, recording 15 total shots in the first period alone.
Minotauros netminder Thomas Kiesewetter, who received the nod in goal for the first time this season, went toe-to-toe with his Corpus Christi counterpart, Joseph Weise, throughout the first 15 minutes of play. The second IceRays penalty of the frame, a roughing minor committed by Casper Gillberg with 5:31 to play in the period, would set the table for Minot’s first goal of the year.
Minot forward Dean Schwenninger received the puck off the draw and waited a moment for a passing opportunity on the near side. He then flicked the puck across the offensive zone to his teammate Cole Mickel, who released a quick one-time shot from the far circle that found its way past Weise with 4:23 remaining in the period. Jaksen Panzer was also credited with an assist on the play.
“After being a little bit snakebitten yesterday and even early on in the game this morning, after (Trevor) Stachowiak fired one off the post, we were on the verge of starting to grip our sticks a little tight again,” Campbell said. “For Cole to take the lid off, it gave everybody some confidence, and we were able to put a couple more in there.”
Schwenninger tallied his first goal of the season in the frame’s final minute as well, again on the man advantage when a Mickel pass attempt from the boards floated out into no-man’s land in the center of the offensive zone. Schwenninger let a quick slapshot fly and the goal crossed the blue line with two seconds to spare, doubling Minot’s advantage just before the first intermission.
“It’s very important,” Campbell said of how crucial the quick start was. “I think that the first five minutes of a hockey game can really play a factor in what the overall outcome is. We started fast today and we were on time.”
The third Minotauros goal came within the first two minutes of the middle period, when Schwenninger received a pass as he took the offensive zone along the near-side and sent the puck to Jaksen Panzer in the crease.
Panzer tipped it between Weise’s legs as the goaltender scrambled to re-position himself and the forward embraced his teammates along the glass. The Minotauros would later add two more scores via a point-blank shot from the right side of the crease by Colby Joseph 6:11 into the second period, as well as an empty-net goal by Joseph, his second of the game, with 43 seconds to play in the third.
Four Minotauros ended the game with at least two points, led on the scoresheet by Schwenninger’s goal and two assists, and Minot outshot the IceRays 29-19 throughout the contest.
The 16-year-old Kiesewetter played well in his NAHL debut as well, allowing only two of the 19 shots he faced find twine, both in the third period, to earn his first win.
“He is very mature for his age,” Campbell added. “He is a very young player for this league, and he did a nice job of controlling his rebounds. It was his first start in junior hockey, and it is really important for him to have a good first outing. Our players were really, really excited for him today.”
Minot will look to build off its first win of the season in their penultimate contest of the Minnesota showcase, scheduled for Friday morning with an 11 a.m. puck drop.