By: Ken Oda, minotauroshockey.com
Austin, MN – The Minotauros were eliminated from the playoffs after Austin won Game 3 and Game 4 at the Riverside Arena this weekend. The pair of losses marks the fourth consecutive season the Bruins eliminated the Tauros from the postseason.
On Friday night (box score) Nate Pionk (1g 0a) opened the scoring at 10:15 of the first period. For Pionk it was his sixth career playoff point as a Tauro moving him into a tie with Jon Lizotte (2013-15, St. Cloud State) for third all-time in Tauros playoff scoring. Gilber Gabor (2g 4a) drew the Bruins even on a rebound off the rush late in the period however to send the teams to the locker room tied at one. Chase Springman (1g 1a) restored the Tauros lead early in the second but Austin Rueschhoff (2g 0a) answered and Gabor got his second of the game to give the Bruins a 3-2 lead headed into the third. Jade Miller (3g 6a) finished a tap-in on the power play early in the third to push it to 4-2. James LaDouce (1g 0a) added a power play goal for the Tauros to cut it to 4-3, but a pair of empty net goals pushed the final to 6-3.
Austin struck first in Game 4 on Saturday night (box score) Jacob Paganelli (2g 4a) scored at 10:09 of the opening frame but Tauro Captain Jared Brandt (1g 0a) scored a power play goal late in the first to have the game tied after one for the third time in the series. Miller and Paul O’Connor (2g 0a) pushed the Bruins out to a 3-1 lead early in the second. Tauros’ all-time leading scorer Christian Mohs (2g 0a) redirected a Colton Berg (0g 1a) shot from the point in the final minute of the game but the Tauros couldn’t find the equalizer and lost the best of five series three games to one.
While this was unquestionably a disappointing finish to an otherwise good season there is much reason for optimism heading into the offseason. The Tauros have 16 players eligible to return next season including six of the team’s top ten scorers. Four defensemen, Jake Dittel, Sam Fuss, Berg, and Luke Davison, are eligible to return which will give the Tauros are strong veteran base on the blue line as well. Lucas Murray who went 17-11-2 on the season has one season of eligibility remaining as well giving the Tauros veterans at every position heading into the offseason. For all offseason new stay tuned to minotauroshockey.com and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.