by: Ken Oda, gotauros.com
photo credit: Alex Eisen, Minot Daily News
Minot, ND – For the first time in franchise history the Minot Minotauros have won the Central Cup and advanced to represent the division at the Robertson Cup Tournament. The Tauros swept the Austin Bruins three-games to none in the Central Finals with a dramatic double overtime win in front of 2,300 fans in the Pepsi Rink at Maysa Arena. The capacity crowd was the first sellout in the season and a half history of the stadium.
The game opened with a scoreless first period in which the Tauros out-shot the Bruins 10-8. The Bruins struck first 4:58 into the second period when Vlademar Ahlberg converted on a turnover in the Tauros defensive zone. The Tauros answered right back when Keenan Lund, just 20 seconds later, scored to tie the game on a two-on-one rush. Lund had Fritz Belisle with him but as the defender opted to deny the passing lane Lund ripped a shot past Austin goaltender Alex Schilling.
The two goals separated by just 20 seconds would be all that would be scored in regulation as neither team could break the tie in the third period sending the game to overtime. The game shifted to sudden death overtime and the Tauros would get two power plays in the first extra session, but could not convert on either. The second overtime would not last long as just 1:24 in the Tauros captain Alex Adams sent a pass from behind the Austin net to Nolan Sawchuk at the top of the left circle. Sawchuk sent a one-timer past Schilling sending the Tauros to the Robertson Cup.
Sawchuk was quick to credit forwards Adams and Taylor Lantz for “winning the battles down low” to set up the goal saying “I was just trying to sneak in the back door and Al found me for a good goal.”
Tauros Head Coach and General Manager Marty Murray said after the game “I’m so proud of this group, we’ve really become a close-knit family over the last couple of months.” Murray continued “it has been a very special run, hopefully it can continue to get better next week.”
Both Sawchuk and Murray heaped praise on the Tauros faithful. “The crowd was unreal all night but especially after we won, it was so loud in here for 10 to 15 minutes after the game,” said Sawchuk. “The crowd was amazing tonight, you could feel their energy all game” said Murray.
Now the Central Division Champion Tauros advance to the Robertson Cup in Blaine, Minnesota next weekend. The Tauros still do not know who they will play as both the South and Midwest Division playoffs continue. The Tauros do know they will be the fourth seed at the tournament however based on the regular season records of the teams remaining. The East Champion Wilkes-Barre Scranton Knights will be the third seed in Blaine. The Midwest Finals are tied 2-2 between Janesville and Fairbanks and in the South Shreveport leads Lone Star 2-1. Stay tuned to gotauros.com for updates as the Tauros prepare for the Robertson Cup which starts on Friday.