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NA Now: Minot Minotauros

August 25, 2023

The NA Now series features a look at all 32 teams in the NAHL for the 2023-24 season, with a new team being highlighted daily, leading all the way up until the start of the regular season. NA Now looks into each NAHL team including interviews with all the head coaches in the NAHL, as they provide fans with their expectations and outlook for the season, including taking a look at their strengths as a team and thoughts on the league. It will also take a look back on last season and how each team fared and what they accomplished.

Minot Minotauros

Head Coach: Cody Campbell (3rd Season)

2022-23 record: 60 GP, 31-27-2, 64 pts. (4th in the Central Division)

2022-23 leading scorer: Hunter Longhi (71 points)

2023 Playoffs: Lost to Austin in the Central Division Semi-Finals, 3 games to 0

2023-24 Division: Central

First regular season game: Wednesday, September 13th vs. Lone Star Brahmas

Home opener: Friday, October 6th vs. Aberdeen Wings

Last season was an improvement for Head Coach Cody Campbell and the Minot Minotauros. After missing out on the Robertson Cup Playoffs the year before by just three points, the Minotauros did enough last year to improve their record and get into the playoffs thanks to winning five of their last six games of the regular season, which was just enough to edge the Bismarck Bobcats in the standings for the final spot. While both teams had 64 points, the Minotauros owned the tie-breaker with 31 wins.

In the playoffs, the Minotauros gave the Austin Bruins a great and close series, but after a Game 1 loss in overtime, the momentum turned the Bruins way and Austin ended up with the series sweep on their way to the Robertson Cup Championship game. “Last year was proof that every game is so important and the way we finished was a huge positive. It was a step forward for us by getting to the playoffs. Unfortunately, we ran into an Austin Bruins team who had a very talented and deep squad,” said Campbell.

Despite the early exit from the playoffs, the Minotauros made their mark with several NCAA commitments and league awards. 14 players ended the 2022-23 season with an NCAA commitment, including 10 Division I commitments. Forward and American International College commit Hunter Longhi was named the NAHL’s Forward of the Year, thanks to 71 points in 58 games played. Forward and Arizona State commit Chase LaPinta tied for the NAHL lead in goals and was named to the NAHL All-Rookie Team.

“We had big holes to fill coming into this season with the loss of a lot of our scoring from Hunter Longhi and Chase LaPinta, in addition to the advancement of both of our goalies to the NCAA,” said Campbell. “Replacing that was our focus in the off-season, but we have a very solid group of returning players who can hopefully step up and take their games to the level and fill in those gaps.”

Watch: NA Now video interview with Cody Campbell

The Minotauros will get a big lift up front as forward and team captain Trevor Stachowiak, who had 37 points in 58 games played last season, will return this year and will remain as team captain. “This is the first time in my career that I’ve had a captain return. Trevor embodies what we need our players to be,” said Campbell.

Also returning are forwards John Emmons (28 points), Nick Swecke (12 points), and Jack O’Hanisain (10), while on the backend, the Minotauros have some solid veterans in Weston Knox (22 points), Colby Woogk (17 points), and Adam Mahler (15 points). “All the returning players picked up valuable experience last year and learned what it takes to make the playoffs and what kind of intensity you have every game,” said Campbell. “I think there is a fine balance to push guys and when to ease off. It’s important to have open communication with the veteran players and know how the lockerroom is doing.”

The Minotauros’ 31 wins were the most since the 2018-19 season, and fresh off of making the playoffs and 14 NCAA commitments last season, Campbell said that expectations for the club and their fanbase are as high as ever heading into the 2023-24 season. “We have such a great facility, and the community has really backed the team and supported us, but there are also heightened expectations. It’s a privilege to play in front of all those people, but we need to be a successful program year in and year out. There is some extra responsibility there to make sure we are doing our best every single game,” said Campbell.

The Central Division always seems to have some of the best parity in the NAHL, with playoff spots often being decided up until the final game of the regular season and Campbell believes that this season will be no different. “The Central Division is a grind. We have seen how close the standings are every season, so every game matters,” said Campbell. “We are excited to open the season at the NAHL Showcase because it is a spectacle. It’s a big opportunity for our players to be seen by every level of scouts. Our mindset is those games matter just like the games in April do. We are going there to win hockey games.”

Next Up: New Hampshire Mountain Kings

 
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