By: Ken Oda, minotauroshockey.com
Austin, MN – The Minotauros continued their road and Central Division dominance with two come from behind wins in Austin this weekend over the Bruins. The pair of third period comeback wins brought the Tauros to 5-5-0 on the season when trailing entering the third period, making them the only team in the North American Hockey League not under .500 in that situation. More importantly the wins pushed the Tauros out to a six point lead in the race for the Central Division crown.
Friday night’s game saw both teams come out with the energy befitting the top two teams in the Central. Perhaps due to this weekend marking the final regular season meetings between the two clubs it seemed both teams were looking to intimidate each other ahead of a potential playoff meeting still four months away. The result was 89 penalty minutes in the opening period, including Brian Bachnak’s game misconduct for fighting when he attacked an already fallen Johnny Walker. The teams combined for only 12 shots on goal. Luke Forfar scored twice in less than two minutes early in the second period to push the Bruins out to a 2-0 lead. Another series of penalties brought on 38 more minutes of infractions and saw a second Bruin ejected when Jade Miller was whistled from checking from behind. Colton Kramer eventually got the Tauros on the board on the resulting power play to pull the Tauros within one. Before the horn would sound to end the period Jacob Dittle would pick up a game misconduct for head contact leaving the Tauros without one of their top defensemen for the remainder of the weekend. After 144 minutes of penalties through 40 minutes of hockey the teams remained out of the box until Forfar was called for a slash with 3:59 to play. Nick Monfils scored his seventh on the season on the ensuing power play to tie the game and force overtime. Casey Johnson picked up his second assist of the night on Monfils’ goal. Neither team would score in overtime and the game would head to a shootout Walker and Christian Mohs would score in the second and third round respectively only to be matched by Luke Dietsch and Liam Feeney. Kramer scored in the top half of the fifth and then Atte Tolvanen stopped Forfar for the win.
Just 21 seconds into Saturday’s game it appeared that the game was going to go in the same direction as the night before when Trevor Boyd was called for a major penalty and a game misconduct for head contact. The teams however would commit only minor penalties the rest of the way forward. Austin again scored first off of a turnover that Cory Dunn put past Tolvanen at the 8:44 mark of the first. Max Mettler answered for the Tauros just three minutes later with his third of the season. A late shorthanded goal by Nico Sturm however gave the Bruins a 2-1 lead after 20 minutes. That score would hold until the middle of the third when, with the Tauros on the power play, Colton Kramer scored his second of the weekend to tie the game at two and once again force overtime. Just as the night before neither team was able to score in the extra time and the game would be decided by a shootout. Monfils gave the Tauros a 1-0 lead in the second round, and Tolvanen stopped each of Austin’s first four shooters. With the game on his stick Kramer beat Jake Kielly for the fourth time on the weekend to give the Tauros the win and a season sweep of the Bruins.
The Tauros are now in the driver’s seat for the division with a six point lead on Austin and an 11 point lead on third place Bismarck and a 9-1-1 record against the two clubs. The Tauros return home to the Maysa Arena for a rare Thursday night game against the Bismarck Bobcats this week before head to Aberdeen for a weekend set starting Friday. Thursday’s game starts at 7:05, tickets are still available by clicking the “tickets” tab atop this page. Then on Friday the Tauros have a chance to tie the NAHL record for longest road winning streak currently held by the 2008/2009 Topeka Roadrunners who won 14 in a row. Another weekend sweep away from the Maysa would see the Tauros set a new standard. Both Friday and Saturday night’s games can be seen on fasthockey.com.