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Minotauros shut out by Norsemen 4-0

Ryan Ladika/MDN Defenseman Nikolai Charchenko takes a shot during the first period of Minot’s Friday night tilt against St. Cloud.

The first two meetings between the Minot Minotauros and the St. Cloud Norsemen this season broke out in shootouts. The two teams combined for 17 goals in the two-game set hosted by the Norsemen and the two clubs would split their first series of the season Oct. 29-30.

The opener of this weekend’s clash would be unrecognizable to those who took in the offensive spectacle last month. Both teams had their fair share of chances and both netminders remained impenetrable through the first two periods of play, but the Minotauros would fall 4-0 after a quartet of third-period St. Cloud scores at Maysa Arena Friday night.

The Norsemen defensive unit did its part in stifling Minot’s offensive scheme and starting netminder Ethan Dahlmeir did his part in turning aside the 15 shots he faced through the first 40 minutes of play.

Minot’s chances offensively were highlighted by a first-period chance just two minutes into the contest. Forward Dean Schwenninger brought the puck into the offensive zone along the near boards and dished it in the direction of Trevor Stachowiak who had closed into Dahlmeir’s crease.

Stachowiak’s initial try was blocked, but the puck squeaked into the empty space behind Dahlmeir. The forward tried another quick flick of the wrist but sent the puck just wide into the boards.

The pair was the catalyst for another prime scoring chance near the end of the second frame as well. Stachowiak rode a Norsemen defender off the puck in the thick of his offensive zone and sent a quick pass to a wide-open Schwenninger coming down the slot.

Now alone in front of Dahlmeir, Schwenninger kicked the puck to his stick but fanned on the shot attempt.

Minotauros netminder Zach Sandy, meanwhile, was up to the task in his own blue paint during the first two periods of play. Making his 12th appearance of the season, the Fargo, North Dakota native has bounced back nicely the last few weeks from a disappointing beginning to his NAHL career.

After suffering defeats in four of his first five games, Sandy had ridden his team’s recent offensive surge to victories in five of his last six contests entering Friday’s action, making 205 saves in that span.

He stopped each of St. Cloud’s nine first-period shots and all 13 in the middle period to keep the game scoreless entering the final 20 minutes of regulation.

An inability to win the crucial puck battles in the late stages of the contest, head coach Cody Campbell said, led to the four Norsemen goals in the final 10 minutes of play. Minot was unable to solve Dahlmeir and fell to 8-10-1 on the season. St. Cloud rose to 9-5-0 in its winning effort. Sandy finished his evening with 30 saves on 33 shots against, while Dahlmeir turned in a perfect 22-for-22 evening.

The Minotauros will look to claim their second split of the season against the Norsemen Saturday night, with puck drop scheduled for 7:35 p.m.

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