Aberdeen, SD – Just like last season the Minotauros opened the Central Division Finals on the road and stole home ice advantage from the higher seed. Unlike last year however the Tauros are not bringing back a 2-0 series lead as the Wings pushed back after the Tauros won on Friday night to earn a split of the first two games in the best of five series.
On Friday, much like the first round against Bismarck, the Tauros struck early to set the tone when Vince Marino playing his first game of the post season after returning from injury set up Justin Kelley for a goal just 1:21 into the series. The Wings’ John Sladic answered however with less than two minutes to play in the period. Joe Strada got behind the Tauros defense 10:31 into the second to make it 2-1 Wings but just 29 seconds later Wilmer Skoog matched him and the game was tied at two. Stada’s goal marked the first time that the Tauros trailed all post season long and it was just for 29 seconds. David Raisanen the temporarily gave the Tauros their second lead of the game mid-way through the third be Sladic struck again to tie it with just over five minutes to play. The game would go to overtime and just after Levi Kleiboer made a game saving play at his own net (highlight) Kevin Ness snapped one over Matt Vernon’s glove to give the Tauros the overtime victory (highlight).
Saturday the Tauros expected the Wings to push back and it did not take long for them to do so. Just 1:34 into Game Two Nic Sicoly found his own rebound after his initial shot was blocked by a defender and beat Nicholas Grabko whom had committed to the first attempt and could not recover. On a power play seven minutes later Jonathan Bendorf doubled the Aberdeen lead. At that point the Tauros were being outshot 12-2 and trailed 2-0. The Tauros turned the tide after that, outshooting the Wings 33-21 the rest of the way, but had dug themselves too deep of a hole. The Tauros had an excellent opportunity to draw even after Jack Powell was ejected for an illegal hit that injured Tauros’ second leading scorer Keenan Lund the Tauros were granted a five-minute major power play but failed to convert. Sladic would eventually push the lead to 3-0 late in the second with his fourth of the playoffs. Skoog then gave the Tauros a glimmer of hope with 1:05 remaining scoring a lacrosse style goal from behind the Wings net but the Tauros could not solver Vernon again and return home to Minot with the series tied at 1-1.
Last season the Tauros also split Games One and Two in Aberdeen before eventually winning the series in Game Five. Games Three and Four are now set for the Pepsi Rink at Maysa Arena, to celebrate the Tauros division leading seventh consecutive playoff appearance tickets will be just $7. Tickets for both games are available now through the “Tickets” tab atop this page or by clicking here.
Photo Credit: John Davis, Aberdeen American News