by: Ken Oda, minotauroshockey.com
Austin, MN – Prior to this weekend there had been three meetings between the Minot Minotauros and the Austin Bruins and they could not have been closer. The Tauros had taken all three of the earlier meetings; two by shootout and the other a one to nothing shutout. This weekend’s meetings would be no different with both requiring shootouts to be decided.
Friday night the Tauros, playing their fifth game in eight night, went with back-up goalie Ryan Ruck. Ruck more than just filled in for Tyler Parks as he stymied the Bruins stopping 43 of 44 shots in regulation and overtime. Cam Rowat opened the scoring for the Tauros in the first at 13:26 with helpers from Zach Holstrom and Lucas Oliver. The Tauros had the puck in behind the Bruin net, worked it to the front and after Nick Lehr made the initial save Rowat punched home the rebound. Late in the second C.J. Smith was finally able to solve Ruck for the Bruins on an odd-man rush; it was the only puck to get past him. After the third period and overtime passed scoreless the game went to a shootout. Steven Sherman and Scott Dornbrock scored in the second and third rounds respectively and Ruck stopped the first four Bruins’ shooters for the win.
After combining for five goals over their previous three meetings the teams broke out for five goals in the first period on Saturday. Chris Fischer started the outburst when he got free for a shorthanded break giving the Bruins a 1-0 lead. Less than a minute later Sherman drew the Tauros even with a power play goal. Smith put the Bruins back on top 2-1 with his second goal in as many nights when he scored on the power play at 15:57 of the period. The Tauros once again didn’t wait long to draw even. Denis Dalidovich scored off of an offensive zone faceoff just 1:10 after Smith’s goal. The Tauros finally grabbed a lead when Sherman got his second of the night at 18:41 of the period with the teams skating four a side.
The close scores and physical play in the series have lead to a heated rivalry which began to boil over in the second period. Dalidovich and Fischer dropped the gloves late in the second period after Dornbrock and Brandon Wahlin had each been sent off for matching roughing and delay of game calls. The fight did little to calm things down as penalties continued early in the second when Nolan Kirley, Paul Sorenson, and Mason Morelli were all given offsetting minors.
Later in the period with the Tauros on the power play Kirley and David Dalbec chased a puck from the Bruins’ zone into the Tauros’ zone. Dalbec got to the puck first but lost and edge; as Dalbec fell Kirley hit him in the back on the head and the fell into the board together. The game was delayed and Dalbec was taken from the ice on a stretcher. Fortunately after a trip the to hospital Dalbec was cleared to rejoin his teammates for the bus ride home.
Once play resumed the Bruins took another penalty sending the Tauros to a two man advantage for 1:07. The Tauros were unable to cash in, however with six seconds remaining on the second penalty the Bruins took another penalty prolonging the Tauros power play. After the Tauros were unable to cash in on the long power play chance the Bruins earned a five-on-three chance of their own; and just like the Tauros they were unable to score.
Late in the period however Easton Viitala was able to beat Parks to tie the game and force overtime. Once again the extra session passed scoreless and the game was decided in a shootout. Unlike the night before the Tauros were unable to score against Jason Pawloski while Jay Dickman and Wahlin were able to beat Parks to earn the series split.
The shootout loss gives the Tauros five out of a possible six points on the weekend. The 2-0-1 road trip pulls the Tauros back to even on the road at 9-9-1 and puts them 16 points ahead of Coulee Region for the final playoff spot in the Central Division. With an overall record of 18-15-3 the Tauros 39 points leaves them just one point behind both Bismarck and Brookings for second place in the division.
Three Stars of the Weekend:
1st Star: Steven Sherman 2 goals, shootout goal
2nd Star: Tyler Parks 1-0-1 77 saves on 81 shots
3rd Star: Ryan Ruck 1-0-0 43 saves on 44 shots
Next Up: The Tauros head to Coulee Region to take on the Chill for games on Friday and Saturday night. Friday night is the January Buffalo Wings and Rings Road Watch Party. Tickets for the party are available by clicking here or by clicking on the tickets tab atop this page.