Heating Up for the Holidays

by: Ken Oda, minotauroshockey.com

photo credit: Robb Garofalo aberdeennews.com

Aberdeen, SD – The Minotauros took three out four possible points from the Aberdeen Wings this weekend extending their point streak to five games as they head into the Christmas break.  Overall the Tauros have points in seven of the last eight contest since returning from a 2-2-0 Alaska road trip.

On Friday night the Tauros took an early lead on Fritz Belisle’s second goal of the season just 6:43 into the game.  Unfortunately, that was all the offense the Tauros could muster.  The Wings dominated play for the remainder of regulation outshooting the Tauros by a total of 37-17 through the first 60 minutes of the game.  Samu Lonkila however was a wall, stopping 36 shots while most of the game was played in the Tauros’ zone.  Three-on-three overtime led to chances at both ends with Lonkila adding four more saves to his resume before Jonathan Bendorf scored on a two-on-none rush after the Tauros turned the puck over.

Saturday night started looking like more of the same with the Wings taking the game’s first six shots on goal.  The Tauros eventually got going though outshooting the Wings 9-8 over the rest of the period, neither team however was able to puncture the opposing goaltender.  The trend continued into the second with Lonkila and Aberdeen’s Gabe Vinal stopping every shot they saw until with just 2:31 left in the frame Andrew Walker beat Lonkila to make it 1-0 Wings heading into the third.  The Wings had not lost in regulation when leading heading into the third going 10-0-1 this year.  The Tauros changed that.  First Jake Rosenbaum blasted a shot past Vinal to draw the Tauros even at 5:38 of the third.  Then 40 seconds later Zach Noble drew a penalty for an ugly hit on Austin Koss that ended Koss’s night sending the Tauros to the power play.  It took only eight seconds for the Tauros to capitalize earning a measure of revenge for the dirty play by Noble with Miroslav Mucha scoring his league leading 19th goal of the season giving the Tauros a 2-1 lead.  The Wings would get two power plays over the final 11 minutes of the game but Lonkila and the Tauros stood strong.

The three-point weekend saw the Tauros pull within four points of first place despite sitting in last place in the division.  The Tauros have played fewer games than everyone in the division except for first place Austin.  With the division packed so tightly the Tauros games-in-hand will be big down the stretch, as long as they can turn them into points.

The Tauros and the rest of the NAHL take next weekend off for Christmas break, after which the Tauros will return to North Dakota for a three game battle with the Bobcats to close out 2017.  The series starts on December 29th in Bismarck, then moves to Minot on December 30th, and then returns for the traditional Tauros at Bobcats game on New Year’s Eve.