By: Ken Oda, minotauroshockey.com
Minot, ND – After the last two meetings went to shootouts a pair of close games should not come as a surprise that this weekend saw a pair of one goal games. On Friday night the Tauros jumped out to an early lead, extended it, and then almost gave it away. Saturday’s game was even closer taking an 11 round shootout to find a winner.
Zach Holstrom opened the scoring on the weekend just 2:12 into Friday’s game. Jake O’Borsky sent a pass into the slot for Holstrom who deked Aberdeen goalie Chad Catt out of position before tucking it home. Mason Morelli then doubled the lead just 1:58 ater when Steven Sherman found him for a one-timer on a tough angle from the left wing side.
Then in the second Holstrom and Morelli again found twine in rapid succession to push the lead to 4-0. First, Holstrom, with the Tauros on the power play was able to find room in the left wing circle and wire a shot just under the cross bar making it 3-0 at the 10:54 mark. Just 58 seconds later with the Tauros on the rush Sherman again found Morelli on the left side and Morelli beat Catt up high. Then at 17:06 of the second Peter Krieger was able to beat Tyler Parks ending his shutout string at 97:30 of hockey.
Early in the third a power play goal for Erik Baskin gave the Wings hope. Trailing by only 2 they continued to press; outshooting the Tauros 18-7 in the final frame. At the 11:54 mark Emil Blomqvist was able to cut the lead to one, but that was as close as Parks and the Tauros would let the Wings get.
On Saturday it was the Wings who struck first when Krieger tapped a rebound in behind Ryan Ruck. Catt was able to keep the Tauros offense at bay despite 16 first period shots for the home team. Less than a minute into the second Jake Clifford picked up his fourth goal of the season when he carried in over the blue line cut towards the left wing dot, then back across the goal mouth and tucked the puck in behind Catt. The Tauros took a lead on the power play when Holstrom found Lucas Oliver on a give-and-go play making it 2-1 Tauros.
Aberdeen came charging back midway through the third. First Patrick Steinhauser scored to even it at two a side, then just 2:14 later Jake Horton gave the Wings their second lead of the night. The Tauros would not trail for long however as just 1:20 after the Wings’ offensive outburst Brett Bukowski picked up his first of the season on a controversial play. The Wings left goal post came off several seconds prior to Bukowski’s goal. However since referee Terrence Murphy had warned Catt about kicking the net free he allowed play to continue which allowed the goal to stand. The Bukowki shot from the point beat Catt to the glove side and would have gone in whether the net had been knocked free or not. Neither team was able to score again in regulation or overtime and for the third time this season the Tauros and Wings would go to a shootout.
Krieger scored to open the shootout and then Morelli answered to make it 1-1 after the first round. The goalies traded saves in the second and third rounds and Horton missed to lead-off the fourth. New Tauro Jerry Laakso then used beautiful move cutting from left to right across the crease before deking back to the left with a fake that led to Catt falling down before Laakso casually tucked the puck into the net to make it 2-1 Tauros after the fourth round. Colton Kramer was able to slip the puck under Ruck to keep the Wings hope alive for the Wings in the top of the fifth. The twelve shooters where unable to beat Ruck or Catt before Wes Iverson in the bottom of the eleventh round snapped a wrist shot past Catt to give the Tauros the 4-3 win.
Three Stars of the Weekend:
1st Star: Zach Holstrom; 2 goals, 1 assist, +2
2nd Star: Ryan Ruck; 1-0-0, 33 saves on 36 shots, 9/11 in shootout
3rd Star: Mason Morelli; 2 goals, 1 assist, +1
Next Up: The Tauros host the Austin Bruins on Friday and Saturday with both games starting at 8:05. Friday night’s game is SRT Night; the first 500 fans will receive rally towels, there will be prizes throughout the game, and a post game skate with the team.