By: Ken Oda, minotauroshockey.com
Minot, ND – The Minotauros split with the Austin Bruins in the opening weekend of the Central Division Semifinals for the fourth season in a row. Special teams was the key to the weekend with each team using power play goals to propel themselves to victory.
Friday night (box score) saw the Tauros strike first when Jack Murphy (2g 0a) opened the scoring 14:53 into the first getting just enough of the puck during a netmouth scramble for it to trickle over the line. Paul O’Connor drew the Bruins even less than three minutes later when he scored from below the goal line on a shot that snuck between Gunner Rivers and the post. The second period passed scoreless as did much of the third. Christian Mohs (1g 0a) broke the tie with the Tauros on a five-on-three power play after Zach Kennedy (0g 0a) was ejected for checking from behind and Travis Kothenbeutel (0g 1a) was sent to the box for slashing. Murphy added an insurance goal two minutes later with Kothenbeutel still in the box along with Jade Miller (1g 3a).
On Saturday (box score) the Tauros wasted any momentum gained from the home crowd and the previous night’s win by allowing a Miller power play goal just 1:27 and failing to register a shot on goal until the 9:18 mark of the first. Austin Rueschhoff (1g 0a) and Jacob Paganelli (1g 2a) added power goals in the second on the Bruins third and fourth power plays of the night. The Tauros fought back hard in the third period outshooting the Bruins 12-6 in the frame but Grayson Gavin’s (1g 0a) goal off of a turnover with just 3:00 remaining was the only shot to beat Kristofer Carlson on the night. An empty net goal from Evan Cholak pushed the final to 4-1.
Now the series shifts to Austin for Games Three and Four next Friday and Saturday. The Tauros will look to follow the script that the Bruins have written each of the last three seasons, in which the Tauros have gone to Austin to steal home ice advantage only to have the Bruins win the series. The Tauros have actually been a better road team than home team this season, their 18-9-3 road record was the fourth best in the NAHL. Conversely the Bruins had the 16th best home record going just 15-13-2 in the Riverside Arena. Tauro fans who are planning on attending the games in Austin can get tickets through the Minotauros office by calling (701)852-0101 or emailing Ken Oda at firstname.lastname@example.org.