Highly competitive hockey is a given any time the Bismarck Bobcats and Minot Minotauros take the ice together, and this particular installment was no different. Austin Park built on Thursday’s strong relief effort in net, Tyler Jeanson scored a critical second-period goal and Minot defeated Bismarck 3-1 on Friday night at the VFW Sports Center.
“I thought we played pretty well,” Bismarck coach Layne Sedevie said. “I thought we were a little stagnant, pretty quiet for the first 10 minutes, but I thought we kind of found ourselves again. They’re a good hockey team and it was a hard-fought game for sure.”
The Minotauros opened the scoring near the midway point during the first period on a goal by Nate Pionk. Pionk, standing in front of the net, deflected a Nolan Sawchuk shot past Bismarck goaltender Severi Isokangas to open up a Minot 1-0 lead on the power play.
Bismarck, which appeared a bit sluggish during the first period and well into the second period as well, finally found an equalizer roughly eight minutes into the second period. Tristan Ashbrook scored his sixth marker of the season on Minot goaltender Austin Park with assists going to Tanner Breidenbach and Nick Alexander.
Minot was quick to respond, however, as Zack Bross found a trailing Tyler Jeanson, who fired a laser past Isokangas to give the Minotauros the lead with under 10 minutes to play during the second period.
“We gave up a goal at the end of our power play,” Sedevie said. “Our power play couldn’t score all night and that was probably the difference for us. When you look back at things, we just couldn’t get that power play goal.”
An already chippy game reached its apex following the Minot goal, as minor penalties continued to pile up with nearly every whistle signaling an opportunity for a short scrum between rival teams. Bismarck was granted the opportunity to knot the game up on a power play and appeared to do so, but the official immediately waved off a gritty Bobcats goal.
“I thought it was huge,” Sedevie said. “It’s tough when our guys play so hard. I don’t know why it wasn’t a good goal. Our guy was pushed into their goaltender, and if you watch the National Hockey League, usually that’s a good goal.”
After a short official review of the play, it was stated that the goal was disallowed because Park, the Minot goaltender, was incapable of making a save due to an interfering Bismarck skater. Sedevie was issued a bench minor for his disagreement with the call, which was followed shortly after by a Zach Kennedy slashing minor to set up a 5-on-3 power play for the Minotauros heading into the third period.
The Bobcats managed to weather the storm but ultimately failed to find a game-tying score during the final period of action. Derek Frentz put the game on ice with an empty-net goal with two minutes remaining in the matchup. Isokangas finished his second game in net for Bismarck with 15 saves, while Park, the game’s winning goaltender, recorded 21 stops.
“I think we just need to keep playing with the effort that we have been playing with,” Sedevie said. “It’s disappointing obviously when you lose, but I’m not disappointed in our effort.”