by: Ken Oda, minotauroshockey.com
Austin, MN – The Minotauros entered the weekend riding a six game win streak and leading the Austin Bruins and Aberdeen Wings by four points for the top spot in the NAHL’s Central Division. A sweep of the Bruins along with Aberdeen’s loss to Bismarck has pushed the Tauros lead to seven points. The two wins came in two very different styles but the result was the same, two points in the standings and the win streak being extended.
On Friday night (full box) the Tauros came out flat, getting outshot 12-8 in the first period but the game remained a scoreless tie through 20 minutes. Austin Rueschhoff’s power play goal at 8:59 of the second gave the Bruins a short lived 1-0 lead; however Johnny Walker one-timed a feed from behind the net by Austin Martinsen to even the game just 0:56 later. Another power play goal by the Bruins at 11:30 of the third gave the Bruins a 2-1 lead that they held until late in the game. With the Tauros net empty and an extra attacker on Jack Murphy redirected a shot from Jared Brandt with just 1:19 remaining to force overtime. Just 0:59 into overtime Chase Springman found James LaDouce alone at the Bruin blue line and LaDouce scored his 4th of the season on the breakaway to give the Tauros the win.
On Saturday night (full box) the Tauros came out with more focus and sat in the driver’s seat from the start. Carrying the play at even strength it was a late penalty kill that got the Tauros on the board first. Cameron McClure blocked a shot late in Walker’s slashing penalty, LaDouce touched the puck back to McClure who found Walker coming out of the penalty box just as his penalty ended. The pass sent Walker on a breakaway that he finished easily after faking out Bruin goalie Kristofer Carlson. The Tauros blew the game wide open with three unanswered goals in the second period Springman, Walker, and Christian Mohs in a 10:35 second span to give the Tauros a 4-0 lead. Tauros defensemen LaDouce and Sam Fuss each had big nights with three and two assists respectively. The Bruins scored twice in the final frame including a goal in the final minute to cut the final to 4-2.
Next up for the Tauros is a trip to Cloquet, MN, for a matchup of the NAHL’s two hottest teams. The Tauros have won eight in a row and the defending champion Wilderness have won six. After back to back weekends in Minnestoa the Tauros will finally return to the Maysa to host the Bruins on October 30th and 31st.