Home-ice advantage

Defeating the Minot State University men’s ice hockey team is a tall order regardless of the venue.

Winning a game against the top-ranked Beavers at Maysa Arena has been nearly impossible over the past couple of years.

The Beavers (2-0) posted consecutive 5-0 victories against No. 11 Central Oklahoma last weekend, stretching their home winning streak to 25- including two exhibition wins against Briercrest (Sask.) earlier this year. MSU hasn’t lost a game at Maysa Arena since a 4-3 shootout loss to Robert Morris University (Ill.) on Oct. 29, 2011.

The success at home is easy to pinpoint for the Beavers

“The fans. It really is,” MSU senior forward Josh Rutherford said. “The fans get loud. Not a lot of teams in the country are used to playing in front of big crowds like we get. When they come here, I don’t know if they’re overwhelmed, but it’s really our fans. If we didn’t have them, it would just be a dead arena and there would be no intimidation coming here.”

During the winning streak, the Beavers have outscored opponents 150-30 with 10 shutouts.

“Our crowd is very energetic and anytime we’re having an opportunity to score, they seem to get fine-tuned,” MSU coach Wade Regier said. “More importantly, I think it’s the overall atmosphere and comfortability. Or maybe we just understand where the bounces are.”

The large crowds have had plenty to celebrate in the past couple seasons as the Beavers have scored seven or more goals seven times at Maysa Arena during the streak. Ten of those wins have come against ranked opponents.

“It’s an amazing atmosphere,” MSU senior goaltender Wyatt Waselenchuk said. “Any team that comes here that tells you there’s a harder place to play they’re probably lying because we have the fans by far. We definitely thrive off it. It’s amazing to see the support we get and we hope it keeps on coming.”

The Beavers have 14 games remaining at home. MSU’s next game at Maysa Arena is a national championship rematch against Lindenwood University (Mo.) on Oct. 18.

Special teams issues haunt Tauros in Washington

The Minot Minotauros struggles against Wenatchee (Wash.) continued last weekend with a pair of losses at Town Toyota Center.

The Tauros struggled offensively Friday after making the 1,150-mile trip west. The Wild outshot Minot 37-24 – 17-5 in the third period – and scored twice in the opening period. Minot surrendered all three goals on the power play and totaled 42 penalty minutes on 12 infractions in the 3-0 loss.

Trailing by two goals in the third period, Minot (2-5-1) committed seven penalties and spent nearly the second half of the frame on the penalty kill. Defenseman Johnny Walker was assessed a two-minute roughing minor and a 10-minute unsportsmanlike conduct penalty at 6 minutes, 12 seconds of the third. Forward Tyler Shipstad was given a double minor for checking from behind and a game ejection with 5:40 remaining in regulation.

The Tauros found the back of the net twice Saturday, but allowed another power-play goal and a short-handed tally in a 3-2 loss.

“We took some penalties that we didn’t need to,” Tauros coach Marty Murray said. “When you do that it comes back to bite you and that was the case Friday. Saturday we give up a short-handed goal. It was tough.”

Minot stayed out of the penalty box for the most part, but Wenatchee (5-3) capitalized on the Tauros second and final penalty of the contest. Troy Loggins recorded the Wild’s fourth power-play goal of the weekend 29 seconds into a Jon Lizotte holding penalty at 10:50 of the opening period. The Tauros answered two minutes later with forward Tim Donohue’s team-leading fourth goal of the season.

The Wild reclaimed the lead on Chris Koukis’ short-handed goal late in the second period and stretched the advantage to 3-1 less than two minutes into the third. Tauros forward Cameron Rowat tallied a power-play goal with 7:13 remaining in regulation, but Minot was unable to score the equalizer in the final minute with the extra skater.

“It was obviously disappointing,” Murray said. ” … We took a couple steps back. We didn’t play with any energy or emotion on Friday. Saturday was a little better, but not enough to get it done.”

Murray said there were no positives from the weekend. The Tauros are 1-5 all-time against the Wild.

NAHL Central Division weekend in review

The Austin Bruins have rebounded nicely since suffering their first loss of the season to the Minot Minotauros on Sept. 28. The Bruins swept Brookings over the weekend, capped by an 11-1 rout Saturday.

The Bismarck Bobcats leaped Aberdeen in the standings after a pair of wins against the Wings last weekend. Bismarck scored four of the first five goals Friday before holding off a fierce Aberdeen rally for a 4-3 victory. The Bobcats earned the sweep with a six-round shootout win Saturday.

Each team in the North American Hockey League Central Division has played eight games this season. Austin sits atop the division with 14 points, followed closely by Bismarck (12) and Aberdeen (11). Minot is fourth with five points and Brookings still seeks its first victory of the year.

Mike Kraft covers high school athletics, the Minot Minotauros and the Minot State University men’s club hockey team. Follow him on Twitter @MKraft23_MDN.