Minot had mustered just one point in its last four NAHL games. The Minotauros came to Bismarck badly in need of a win.
It didn't come easily, but Minot eked out a 4-3 victory over Bismarck on Saturday evening at the VFW Sports Center.
"We'd lost two to Aberdeen and two to Bismarck. This was a must win," Minot head coach and general manager Shane Wagner said. "We had to prove to ourselves we could play with these guys. Aberdeen and Bismarck are two of the top teams."
Minot's victory ended a three-game Bobcats winning streak, the most recent victories over Minot on Wednesday and Friday.
Carter Korpi, a 19-year-old forward who once played for Bismarck, was the primary architect of Minot's win. He scored the last two Minotauro goals.
His game-winner came with 2:24 remaining on a 2-on-2 break. He was able to turn the corner on the left side and cut across the goal mouth, left to right. He beat Bobcats goalie Noah Altman with a low shot.
"I tried to get the goalie moving and create a hole. I got it through the five-hole (between the legs)," Korpi said.
Korpi agreed with his coach that Saturday's win was much-needed.
"It was huge. We needed to turn things around," he said.
The triumph improved Minot's record to 5-3-3.
Kyle Kukkonen gave Minot a 1-0 lead early in the first period, but Bismarck's Luke Gramer responded in the last minute, making it a 1-1 standoff in the first period.
Minot got a pair of bang-bang goals in the middle of the second period to go ahead 3-1. Cade Stibbe scored on a rebound at 8:17 after a hard Minot shot ricocheted off the glass behind the net. Forty-nine seconds later Korpi scored from the top of the left circle after a faceoff and the Tauros were in charge 3-1.
Bismarck's Braden Costello trimmed the deficit to one goal in the 13th minute, scoring on a low shot from low on right circle.
The third period was scoreless until 13:49 when Will Magnuson banged in a shot from the top of the slot for a 3-3 deadlock.
Just under four minutes later, Korpi unlocked the deadlock.
Korpi, in his second season of NAHL hockey, has touched a few bases. He played 19 games with Bismarck last season before being traded to Jamestown in the NAHL's East Division.
He finished the season at Jamestown, playing in 13 games. When Jamestown elected to suspend operations for this season, Korpi went into a dispersal draft, where he was selected by Minot. He has another year of junior eligibility remaining.
Saturday's contest began a long home stand for the Bobcats, now 4-6-0. They will be at the VFW the next three weekends, taking on Central Division foes Aberdeen, Austin and Minot, each in two-game series.