By: Ken Oda, minotauroshockey.com
Minot, ND – 51 weeks ago the Minotauros found themselves in exactly the same position they find themselves today. After earning a road split in the first two games of a first round playoff series in Austin the Minotauros returned to packed Maysa Arena looking to advance. Instead, an overtime loss followed by a 1-0 loss in Game 4 sent the Tauros home for the summer.
While the first two games of this series have yielded the same result as the previous one, the path has been very different. Game 1 went to the Tauros 8-6, a game which saw more goals (14) than all four of the previous playoff series between these teams saw in all four games combined (13). Game 2 saw the Tauros fall 2-1, with Jake McCann notching the Tauros lone goal in a game that saw both teams return to the dedicated defensive efforts that they are known for.
Now as the series shifts to Minot the Minotauros will need to find ways to replicate the offensive success they had in Game 1. Like McCann, Michael Louria and Tim Donohue each have two goals already in the series, and will be counted on to continue to produce. The Tauros will also look to generate offense from the blue line as Jon Lizotte and Scott Dornbrock both finished in the top five in Tauros scoring with 25 and 24 points respectively. Merrick Madsen took over in Game 1, and after an up and down effort in relief, stood solid on Saturday night stopping 31 of 33 keeping the Tauros in the game.
The Bruins offense in the regular season was led by Jay Dickman, who finished second in the NAHL in scoring. Through two games in the playoffs he has a goal and two assists. Luke Dietsch and Niko Hildenbrand match Dickman’s post-season total to tie for the club lead. In net Nick Lehr bounced back from a rough Game 1 to stop 13 of 14 Tauros shots last Saturday.
As is often the case in the playoffs, special teams can play a huge role in the series. The Tauros went 3/7 on the power play through the first two games, but also surrendered two shorthanded goals against. The Bruins meanwhile, went 0/5 on the power play. Both teams struggled on the power play in the regular season, with Austin finishing 21st in the NAHL while the Tauros came in 24th in the league.
For the underdog Tauros getting Game 3 would be huge. It would shift all of the pressure on to the Bruins for Saturday’s Game 4. To do so, the Tauros will need to find a balance between the offensive output of Game 1 and the defensive effort of Game 2.
Tickets: Avoid the lines by purchasing your tickets in advance and printing them at home. Tickets are available by clicking the “Tickets” tab atop this page. Prior to Friday’s Game 3, the Tauros will be hosting a pre-game party in the Trophy Room. Tickets (available here) to the party are $20, and include all you can eat Spicy Pie pizza and all you can drink Coors Light Draft. Doors open for the party at 5:30.