by Ken Oda
Minot, ND - The Minotauros got back on track this weekend taking four points in a weekend sweep of the visiting Austin Bruins. The wins extend the Tauros lead on the Bismarck Bobcats for second place to eight points creating some separation between the Tauros and the bottom four teams in the division.
Friday night the Tauros took the lead late in the first when Damon Zimmer ripped a shot past Bruin goaltender Tyler Shea after he had stonewalled several great chances early. For Zimmer it was his team leading seventh of the season; Kaiden Scott and Reid Bogenholm picked up the assists. Scott then set up Cade Stibbe's second goal since returning to Minot from the USHL's Fargo Force late in the second period to give the Tauros a 2-0 edge heading into the final frame. In the middle of the final period with the Tauros on the power play Carson Riddle took over for Austin, twice capitalizing on Tauros mistakes and scoring on odd-man rushes to draw the Bruins even. The two shothanded goals against, just 1:16 apart were the only goals the Bruins would manage all weekend as Keenan Rancier would stop all 69 other attempts he would see in 122:43 of hockey. Stibbe would end up the hero on Friday night picking up a loose puck in the neutral zone during the three-on-three extra session and speeding in on a breakaway he beat Shea with a fake before sliding the puck in off his backhand.
Saturday night the Tauros would also eventually get a 2-0 lead. Kyle Kukkonen's second of the season came late in the first when he beat Shea five-hole. A penalty marred second period including a fight, saw little offense and several big hits but ended with the Tauros still ahead 1-0. After delay for ice maintenance caused by a skate digging all the way down to the concrete floor in the middle of the third the Tauros would get an insurance goal right after the restart. Jacob Thomas made a good play at the blue line to keep the puck in the zone and then fired a puck off the far post and in to double the lead. That was all Rancier would need as he held on for his second shutout of the season. The 36 saves he made were the most by a Tauro goalie in a shutout of the Austin Bruins.
Next up the Tauros host the St. Cloud Blizzard for their final home games before the Christmas break. The games were originally scheduled to be home games against the Aberdeen Wings on Friday and Saturday night, but due to Covid restrictions in Minnesota the NAHL Central Division schedule had to be adjusted. Tickets that list Aberdeen as the opponent but have the correct December 11th and 12th dates will be honored for the games against St. Cloud. A small number of tickets will be available through our online ticketing system powered by Igniter.
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North American Hockey League Stories from December 6, 2020
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