The St. Cloud Norsemen dominated in all facets Thursday night in Minot and set season highs in goals scored and margin of victory, had a player finish off a hat trick in the closing seconds and had two players pick up their first NAHL goals as they defeated the Minotauros 9-2.
It took just 2:20 into the contest for the Norsemen to strike first with Jeremiah Konkel circling behind the net and on his backhand throwing a pass through the crease that Andrew Clarke tapped in from the backdoor to give St. Cloud the early 1-0 lead. Chase LaPinta tied the game for Minot when he rifled a shot right off an offensive zone faceoff at the 10:32 mark but less than two minutes later St. Cloud retook the lead when Jordan Zelenak fed the puck from below the goal line and defenseman Duke Kiffin pinched down low and lifted a shot from just outside the crease above the glove of Noah Rupprecht to give the Norsemen the 2-1 lead at 12:30 of the first.
Seconds after the media timeout in the second period Daniels Murnieks won an offensive zone faceoff straight to Broten Sabo who handed it off to Blake Perbix. Perbix peeled off the left side boards and went over top then sniped a shot up high between the circles just inside where the crossbar and right post meet, aided by a screen set up from Murnieks to give St. Cloud a 3-1 lead at 7:26 of the second. Just over a minute later Clarke set up Kiffin on the inside sliver of the right circle and while Kiffin’s shot didn’t get through, Konkel tracked down the rebound and backhanded a saucer pass to Owen Hendrikson, who skated to the top of the left circle and buried a shot high on the far side thanks partially to a screen established by Tyler Dysart. St. Cloud goaltender Ethan Dahlmeir made the save of the game with 8:50 left in the period sliding over from left to right to deny a backdoor tap in attempt and the Norsemen would build their lead with Clarke’s second goal of the game when he tracked down a rebound off of a Konkel shot and banked it in off Rupprecht’s torso at the 16:17 mark giving St. Cloud a 5-1 lead heading into the third.
The Norsemen kept their foot on the gas pedal in the third period as Elmeri Hällfors tracked down the rebound from his own shot in the left corner and fed it up to Otto Humble at the left point. Humbled blasted a shot that beat Rupprecht low and to the far side with Hunter Hanson providing a screen and picking up the secondary assist on the goal at the 4:03 mark. Two minutes later in the closing seconds of the only St. Cloud power play of the contest Nik Hong with his back along the left side half wall found Hanson on the far right circle who sniped one over the goalie’s right shoulder to make it a 7-1 score 6:10 into the third. Justin Dauphinais scored a tap in goal on the backdoor set up by Joe Blackley to cut it to a five goal lead at 11:01 but St. Cloud would get back on the scoresheet at 14:29 when Charlie Wind floated in a shot over Rupprecht on a pass through the crease from Hogan Sinjem. The icing on the cake was when Jake Hosszu took a shot from the right point in the dying seconds of the game and the rebound kicked out to Clarke who finished the hat trick on his backhand standing just off to the side of the crease with 2.5 seconds left.
St. Cloud was outshot 11-5 in the first period but managed 14 and 15 shots on goal in the second and third periods respectively while Minot managed 11 shots in each period with the Norsemen edge the Minotauros 34-33 in that department. The Norsemen were perfect on special teams going 3-for-3 on the Pantown penalty kill and 1-for-1 on the Rambow power play.
The victory improved St. Cloud to 13-13-3 and three points behind North Iowa with a game in hand. The loss dropped Minot to 16-14-2 and just two points clear of North Iowa with the Bulls having two games in hand on the Minotauros. Minot is sure to give St. Cloud their best effort in the rematch Friday night in Minot with the puck drop at 7:35 pm. Be sure to tune in online at www.hockeytv.com.