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Bobcats

 MINOT -- Every time the Bismarck Bobcats made a move, Minot was ready with a counter.

 The host Minotauros, with the help of three power play goals, stayed a step ahead of the Bobcats all night en route to a 5-3 Saturday night playoff victory.

 With the win, Minot opened a commanding 2-0 edge in the five-game Central Division semifinal round of the North American Hockey League playoffs.

 After a five-day break, the teams return to action Friday night at the VFW Sports Center. Game time is 7:15 p.m. A Bismarck win would prompt a fourth game at the VFW on Saturday night.

 Minot got the jump on the visiting Bobcats with first-period tallies by David Raisanen and Taylor Lantz. 

 Bismarck pulled even on a goal by Bartek Bison to end the first period and Adam Stacho to start the third period. Minot quickly responded to make it 4-2 and kept the Bobcats at bay the rest of the game.

 Minot, a 5-1 winner over the Bobcats in Friday's playoff opener, came out flying again on Saturday. The Minotauros outshot Bismarck 12-3 in the first period.

 The flurry of shots paid off in goals by Raisanen and Lantz. 

 After 12 minutes of scoreless hockey, Raisanen broke through after being set up by Sam Skinner and Wilmer Skoog.

 The Bobcats took three penalties in the final three minutes of the first period, and it quickly caught up with them as Lantz logged a power play at 13:29 with an assist from Keenan Lund.

 Just under three minutes later, Bison countered the Tauros' power play goal with an unassisted shorthanded marker at 16:13.

 Bismarck pulled even, 2-2, at 8:34 of the second period,Stacho beating Minot goalie Nicholas Grabko on an assist from Jacob Marti.

 Minot, the Central Division's No. seed, responded quickly and brusquely to Stacho's equalizer. Didrik Henbrant and Andrew Kangas found the range just 84 seconds apart to give the Tauros a 4-2 lead with just under four minutes remaining in the second session.

 Henbrant scored Minot's second power play goal of the night at 14:48 with Raisanen and Skoog assisting. Kangas caught the Bobcats a man short at 16:12, scoring unassisted.

 The penalty box was a busy place in the second period. Officials doled out three minor penalties and a double minor to each team. The doubles went to Bismarck's Will Hillman and Minot's Lincoln Erne for roughing at the 8:52 mark.

 Stacho scored his second goal of the game, a power play marker, with help from Austin Jouppi at 5:49 of the third period. That cut the deficit to 4-3, but not for long.

 Kangas came right back with his second tally of the night to put the Minotauros back in control, 5-3, with 7:06 to play. Skoog and Connor McGinnis picked up assists on the play.

  Penalties littered the contest. The Bobcats were charged with 12 minors and a 10-minute misconduct. Minot was whistled for 11 minors. Minot converted on three of its nine power play opportunities. Bismarck was one-for-8.

 The Minotauros are attempting to duplicate or better last year's strong playoff run. They reached the final round of Robertson Cup playoffs last spring.

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