The Minnesota Magicians split a series in Minot, North Dakota over the weekend, gaining two valuable points in their playoff race with the Aberdeen Wings. The Magicians took the ice on Friday night at Maysa Arena and scored a decisive victory over the division leading Minotauros. On Saturday night the Magicians and Minot battled in another tight contest, but the Minotauros were able to steal a victory.
Elsewhere around the league, the Aberdeen Wings lost twice to the Bismarck Bobcats, once in regulation and once in overtime, meaning the Magicians are still alive in a playoff race that will likely come down to the final weekend of the regular season. Coming up this week the Magicians face off against the Austin Bruins on Thursday night at Richfield Arena, and on Saturday they will play the Coulee Region Chill at Richfield as well.
On Friday night, the Magicians and Minotauros competed in an offensive shootout at Maysa Arena. Minot got the scoring started in the first period, but the Magicians responded with 3 consecutive goals to end the period with a 3-1 lead. First it was Jack Christensen assisted by Pierce Crawford and Brady Heppner to tie the game. Next, Brady Heppner found the back of the net on a goal assisted by Pierce Crawford to give the Magicians a lead. Shortly thereafter, Pierce Crawford picked up his 3rd point of the period on a shorthanded goal assisted by Jack Christensen and Derek Olmschenk.
In the second, Minot got themselves back in the game with two powerplay goals late in the period to even the score heading into the intermission. In the third, the Magicians took control of the game and never relented. Early in the final frame, Derek Olmschenk scored a goal assisted by Tyler Bump to put the Magicians back on top. Later, it was Pierce Crawford scoring once again with a powerplay goal assisted by Tanner Tweeten and Mitch Slattery. Minot would be unable to muster another goal and the Magicians skated away with a 5-3 victory in a hostile road environment. Magicians goaltender Will Ulrich had a huge night and made 53 saves in the victory.
On Saturday, the Magicians took the ice with an opportunity to draw even with Aberdeen in the playoff race. In the first period, Minot once again got the scoring started when they got a powerplay goal at the midway mark of the frame. A short time later, the Magicians answered with a goal by Jack Christensen that was assisted by Pierce Crawford and Brady Heppner. The remainder of the period was scoreless and the two teams entered the first intermission locked in a 1-1 tie.
In the second, the Magicians took a brief lead when John Peterson scored a goal assisted by Braxton Collins and Tanner Tweeten. A short time later, the Minotauros were able to even the score at 2-2. Then late in the period, Minot was once again able to find the back of the net and retake the lead. The goal would be the last goal of the game from either team, and the Minotauros escaped with a victory over the Magicians on home ice. Goaltender Daniil Gerasimov made 32 saves in the loss for the Magicians.
With the weekend split, the Magicians gained two points in the playoff race and are now only 2 points behind the Aberdeen Wings with still 6 games remaining in the regular season. The Magicians face the Austin Bruins on Thursday night and Coulee Region Chill on Saturday night this week, while the Wings will host Austin at home on Friday and Saturday at Odde Ice Center in Aberdeen, South Dakota.