by: Ken Oda, minotauroshockey.com
The Minotauros are half way through their first ever trip to Alaska and are off to a solid start. They took three of four points from the Kenai River Brown Bears over the weekend and now have a week to train and bond on the early season trip to The Great Frontier.
Friday's game saw the Tauros dealing with jetlag, after spending all day Thursday traveling to Alaska then having the game start at 10:30 p.m. Minot time the Tauros knew they were in for a challenge. Despite the difficulties the Tauros fought well and controlled play for stretches, outshooting the Brown Bears in each of the first three periods. However both Atte Tolvanen and Josh Creelman kept the shooters at bay through the first 54:21 of play. Maurin Bouvet was the first to strike for the Bears beating Tolvanen and giving Kenai a 1-0 lead. Less than two minutes later however James Mathias scored his third of the season with the Tauros on the power play to even the game with just under four minutes to play.
The score would hold at 1-1 through the remainder of regulation, and despite chances for both squads in overtime a shootout was needed to decide the winner. Nick Monfils gave the Tauros a 1-0 lead in the second round, but Christopher Usov and Tanner Schachle were able to beat Tolvanen in the fourth and fifth rounds respectively while no other Tauro shooter was able to score. While the Tauros did suffer the loss, by making it to a shootout they extended their point streak to four games.
Then on Saturday night the Tauros wasted little time showing that they had adjusted to the time change. Johnny Walker scored with the Tauros on the power play at 11:07 of the first. Then late in the period with the Tauros again having a man advantage Chase Springman scored his second of the season giving the Tauros a 2-0 lead headed into the first intermission. Late in the second period, Walker notched his second of the game and fifth of the season when he flipped a backhander past Zach Quinn.
Two quick goals early in the third pushed the Tauros lead to 5-0 and chased Quinn from the net. Casey Johnson scored his first of the season on a wristshot from the left point to make it 4-0 Tauros. Then James Mathias scored the Tauros fifth of the night, it was his third as a Tauro in as many games since being acquired via trade from Wenatchee. Nick Monfils scored on a fantastic individual effort beating Alec Derks who had come on in relief of Quinn to push the Tauro lead to 6-0. Jack Gessert spoiled Tolvanen’s shutout bid with just under a minute remaining cutting the score to 6-1, but that was all the Tauro keeper would surrender in the win.
Next Up: The Minotauros stay in Alaska this week and head to Fairbanks. The Ice Dogs are coming off of a two game sweep of the Bismarck Bobcats that improved their record to 4-5-1. Fairbanks’ offense is potent posting 3.44 goals per game, which is tied for sixth in the NAHL, however they give up a league worst 4.22 goals per game. Both Friday and Saturday night’s games will start at 10:30 p.m. and can be seen on fasthockey.com.