The St. Cloud Norsemen had three games in Minot over the weekend and battled hard, picking up points in two of the three games and going 1-1-1 on the series.
Thursday’s game saw the Norsemen put up the most goals they’ve scored in the season and winning by seven was also a best in the 2022-23 campaign as they came away victorious 9-2. Andrew Clarke scored the first and last goal of the game in a hat trick with Duke Kiffin, Blake Perbix, Owen Hendrikson, Otto Humble, Hunter Hanson and Charlie Wind also finding the back of the net and Ethan Dahlmeir making 31 saves in the victory. For a full recap of Thursday’s game, you can find the story here.
Friday’s rematch saw a scoreless first period but shy of the halfway point of the second the Norsemen struck first when Perbix cycled the puck from the right wing boards down below the goal line, continued out to the blue line then curled back into the zone. Meanwhile, Daniels Murnieks faked playing the puck short side and let it roll behind the net then picked it up and fired a shot out front which left a rebound to the right of Minot goalie Noah Rupprecht that Perbix quickly slipped under the closing right leg pad of Rupprecht at the 7:34 mark of the frame to make it 1-0. The Minotauros struck back quickly when three minutes later their leading scorer Hunter Longhi curled from the right circle and fell while taking a shot that left a rebound. The puck kicked off of Tomáš Boľo and popped right to Nick Sewecke and Boľo had no chance at the second shot, which tied the game at 10:42 of the second to take us into a 1-1 third period.
St. Cloud took the lead back at 11:39 of the third on the powerplay when Minot cleared the zone and St. Cloud’s Broten Sabo tracked down the puck in his own zone and backhanded a pass over his shoulder away from a pursuing Tauro. Kade Peterson skated the puck from neutral ice to the inner side of the left circle and used an opposing defenseman as a screen before rifling a shot high, glove side past Rupprecht. The lead looked like it would hold up but Minot’s Bryce Howard raced in from the left wing boards and slid a pass across to Chase LaPinta who lifted the puck past Boľo diving from right to left and the game was deadlocked at the 18:27 mark. Both teams got the point for reaching overtime but Minot stole the second point and the win 56 seconds into overtime when Howard again came up the left side on a 2-on-1 before feeding Nick O’Hanisain, and the defenseman one-timed a low shot beating the goaltender to his left to come away with a 3-2 overtime victory.
For the third night in a row the Norsemen got on the board first Saturday night just seconds into Minot’s first power play. Sabo flipped the puck over a Minotauro looking to hold the left point and it floated over him to neutral ice where Norsemen captain Nik Hong raced onto it and created a 2-on-1 with Hanson to his left. Hong toe-dragged to center himself then beat netminder Erik Chaffe over the left shoulder to score shorthanded and make it 1-0 at 15:06, a lead that would hold up into the second.
The middle frame started off great for the visitors when Peterson raced up the left side and from the top of the circle shot far side and got a pass off the pads to kick right out to Hanson, who buried it just 35 seconds into the second. But Minot struck twice 55 seconds apart when Howard scored from in tight on Dahlmeir’s left, banking it in off the far side post, and then a timely stick lift at the Minot blue line got the puck out of the zone and Longhi slipped a puck to LaPinta on a 2-on-1 who scored on the backdoor to tie the game 10:51 into the second. That would leave the game deadlocked at 2-2 heading into the second intermission and make it a winner-take-all third period.
For the third game in a row the Norsemen converted on a power play when Clarke made a great feed to Elmeri Hällfors low in the slot and his shot bounced off Chaffe’s stick and rolled over his shoulder to give St. Cloud a 3-2 lead at the 7:50 mark. But that lead would only last four minutes as Minot again struck twice in less than a minute, first on a LaPinta power play tally at 11:54 and then on a shot by Trevor Stachowiak from one knee at the right circle at 12:46. The Tauros finished off the comeback with an Adam Mahler goal from the right point at 16:30 and LaPinta completed his hat trick with an empty netter at 17:58 to seal the 6-3 victory. St. Cloud picked up three of a possible six points in the series and their special teams went 3 for 5 on the power play and killed off 8 of 9 penalties.
The Norsemen are back in action this Friday with a road trip to Austin and the puck dropping at 7:05 pm. That game can be watched online at hockeytv.com. St. Cloud is back home after the six game road trip to finish off the home-and-home with the Bruins on Saturday; game starts at 7:00 pm and tickets can be purchased online at tickets.stcloudnorsemen.com.