Tauros top Norsemen 3-1 on Sunday night
After a week absence from game action, the Minot Minotauros (5-4-0-0) hosted the St. Cloud Norsemen (4-6-0-1) on Sunday night, looking to make it two wins in a row after topping the Bismarck Bobcats 4-1 on Oct. 1.
Heading into the matchup with the Norsemen, the Tauros are averaging 3.13 goals per game, while allowing 2.75 goals per game on the season. On the other side, the Norsemen have been on a bit of a slide to start the year, netting 2.40 goals per game and allowing 3.40 goals per game.
In a crowded Maysa Arena for the first Sunday night home game of the season, the energy was vibrant throughout the rink as both teams hit the ice with the objective of coming out victorious in a quick, one-game matchup.
With the Norsemen not giving much way for the Tauros early in period one, the Tauros would catch their first break of the game and would make the most of the opportunity. As Carter Bradley made his way to the penalty box for holding, the Tauros would gain their first advantage of the evening.
On a fast break rush, Hunter Longhi would fire a shot at goaltender Ethan Dahlmeir and Cooper Rice would crash the net to clean up the rebound attempt, giving the Tauros their first lead of the night at 1-0 with 15:55 to go in period one.
Adding to their chances, at 12:44 and 7:43 left in period one the Tauros would get two more powerplay opportunities, although both times they would come up empty. At full strength, it took the Tauros some time to transition into their offense, however, they would begin to put shots on goal and crash the net as they looked to control the flow of the game.
Despite one last surge by the Norsemen, Tauros’ goaltender Lawton Zacher kept them scoreless with the team clinging to a 1-0 lead at the first break. Period one featured a more prominent attack by the home team, as the Tauros outshot the Norsemen 19-10.
More pressure was put on by the Norsemen in period two, who finished the period outshooting the Tauros 12-8. In what was a much quieter period, the second frame featured a combined eight penalties between both teams, but neither could cash in as the game remained locked in with a 1-0 Tauros lead at the second break.
As the Norsemen were firing off more shots, Zacher of the Tauros continued his brilliance in the net to keep them off the board moving into the final period. He was tested a lot more frequently in period two but did not budge and kept the lead secured for his team.
Extending their lead to open the third period were the Tauros, who utilized a goal by newcomer Braden Fischer, his second of the year, and an assist by Hunter Longhi to make it a 2-0 lead with 17:00 left in the game.
Saving the drama for the final minutes, a stoppage in play occurred after what appeared to be a goal by the Norsemen, with a fight occurring immediately after. The goal, however, would be wiped away with a variety of penalties ensuing for both teams.
With 3:31 left in period three, Jordan Zelenak and Andrew Knapp of the Norsemen, as well as Colby Joseph and Adam Mahler of the Tauros would all receive double minors for roughing and were ejected from the game.
Closing out the period strong was the defense of the Tauros, who swarmed to the puck all night and registered some key blocks and deflections to help keep the Norsemen off the scoreboard throughout most of the night.
Zacher would be tested one last time, as the Norsemen had a man up advantage with two minutes to go. With 38 seconds left, the Norsemen would get their first goal of the night courtesy of a wrist shot from Kade Peterson on the powerplay.
Wanting to get right back in it, the Norsemen would pull their goalie and the Tauros would immediately make them pay as Chase LaPinta put one in the empty net for his first career goal in the Magic City.
The goal by LaPinta would bring the game to its final score of 3-1, as the Tauros took the lead early in period one and never looked back in their win over the Norsemen on Sunday night.
Playing a massive role in the Tauros win was Zacher, who stopped 35 of 36 shots and never wavered despite seeing an increase in his workload as the game went on.
Coming up next for the Minotauros will be a road series when they head to Mason City Arena to take on the North Iowa Bulls. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. on Oct. 14, which will be the opening game of the series.