Searching for offense
Following back-to-back shutout losses at home to the Aberdeen Wings, the Minot Minotauros are looking for answers to their scoring woes.
Since a 4-2 victory against the previously unbeaten Austin Bruins, the Tauros have scored just two goals and have been shut out three times during a four-game losing streak.
“It’s real frustrating,” Tauros coach Marty Murray said. “We put up 30-plus shots both games, but for us as a staff it was too much perimeter shooting. We had a lot of chances with loose pucks sitting around the crease and for whatever reason we are a second late getting there. We get outbattled around the net. It’s something we have to change here as of yesterday to right the ship.”
Minot (2-7-1) averages 1.6 goals per game, which ranks last in the North American Hockey League Central Division. The winless Brookings Blizzard fares slightly better at 1.8 goals per game.
The Tauros’ offensive production in the first 10 games of the season is the worst it’s been to start a season since Minot joined the NAHL in the 2011-12 season. Minot averaged 2.3 goals per contest that season and 2.5 goals per game last year.
“It’s confidence and frustration,” Murray said. “I’m sure our fans are frustrated. They come out and we don’t get a goal all weekend. It can’t happen at our level, especially at home where we should have an advantage. It’s not good enough and we’re working everyday to make it better.”
The Tauros are 1-3 at Maysa Arena this season.
Murray said correcting the offensive issues is a “real fine line,” but also addressed the need to get more bodies in front of the net to create better scoring chances.
“You scream and harp on them and then they end up gripping their sticks a little too tight,” Murray said. “If you give a goalie in our league a free look at a puck off a shot, he’s going to make the save. We have to create some traffic and cause some turmoil around the net.”
The Tauros take their inaugural trip to Cloquet, Minn., to face the Minnesota Wilderness in a two-game series beginning at 7:05 p.m. Friday.
Beavers host national championship rematch
The last time the Minot State University men’s club hockey team hosted Lindenwood University (Mo.), Wade Regier wasn’t the coach. He was a sophomore forward for the Beavers.
On Friday, the defending American Collegiate Hockey Association champion Beavers (4-0) will face off with the Lions, who have won two ACHA titles in program history. It’s a rematch of last year’s national championship.
Both teams are coming off weekend sweeps. MSU outscored North Dakota State 18-1 over the weekend to remain unbeaten and Lindenwood posted 4-2 and 10-4 victories at home against Indiana University.
“It’s certainly going to be a playoff atmosphere,” Regier said. “For them, they’re going to come out more hungry than normal. For our guys, it’s certainly something we’re going to have to be ready for.”
Lindenwood enters the weekend series 3-3 after losing to Central Oklahoma and Oklahoma (twice) earlier in the season. The slow start is nothing new for the Lions, who opened last season 3-7 before making a run to the title game as a No. 9 seed.
“They have a lot of players that are very good,” Regier said. “I think their overall team depth isn’t a good as past years, but because of the talent they do have, they have guys that can score and be very dangerous. A team like them, you can’t take them lightly because they’ll take advantage of all your mistakes.”
The two teams have met in the national tournament the past two years. MSU got the better of Lindenwood last season, but the Lions eliminated the Beavers in the quarterfinal round in 2012.
“Every time you play someone that beat you the last game of the season, there’s always a little extra initiative to go out there and get the win,” MSU senior forward Josh Rutherford said. “For us, we just have to focus on what we have to do and that should take care of itself in the end.”
Lindenwood’s offense is led by Daniel Rosse, who’s recorded seven goals this season. Stephen Bopp (4 goals) and Taylor Wolfe (3) round out the Lions top three goal scorers. They’ll face an MSU defense that has allowed only one goal this season and none at Maysa Arena.
“It’s going to be a big weekend for the guys,” MSU junior defenseman Mitch Peeke said. “We don’t know exactly what to expect out of (Lindenwood). They’ve done really some games and there’s games where they don’t do so well. It will be a good test for our team.”
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.