By: Ken Oda, minotauroshockey.com
Brookings, SD – The Minot Minotauros fifth season got off to a disappointing start as they dropped both games of a weekend set in Brookings. Both losses came after regulation however so the Tauros did salvage two points on the weekend. After a franchise record 37 wins last season expectations were high entering the regular season, these two losses, while disappointing, should do little to temper those expectations. Despite the losses the Tauros speed and skill still was on display as was their quick strike ability. Perhaps most encouraging was the team’s ability to battle back through adversity scoring third period goals in both games to force overtime.
Friday night (full box) the Tauros got off to a strong start outshooting the Blizzard 12-7 through the first 20 minutes, however Eric Hancock was able to keep the Tauros off the board. After a James LaDouce holding penalty Garrett Elmore tucked a rebound past Jon Flakne to give the Blizzard a 1-0 lead. LaDouce atoned for his error almost immediately however with a power play goal of his own less than a minute later on a blast from the left point off of a Derek Frentz faceoff win. The Blizzard struck back with a pair of goals in less than a minute off Tauros defensive zone turnovers to finish the period with a 3-1 lead. The Tauros started their comeback right away in the third period with Owen Larson scoring 96 seconds into the final frame. Kane Durment capitalized on another turnover this time jumping on a Tauros pass along the Blizzard blue and breaking in alone on Flakne to give the Blizzard a 4-2 lead. Christian Mohs scored a power play goal on a rebound with 6:47 left and Larson added his second of the night on a net-mouth scramble 89 seconds later to tie it. That score held through overtime and into a shootout, after the first three shooters it was tied 1-1 on goals from Mohs and Mikael Hakkarainen sending the shootout to an extra round. Chase Springman missed the net wide and Will Gauthier made a nice fake backhand move to tuck the puck around Flakne for the win.
Saturday (full box) the game started much as it had the previous night with the Tauros controlling play but failing to score, this time holding a 13-6 shot advantage while heading into the first intermission in a scoreless tie. The Tauros had briefly thought that Springman had given the team a 1-0 lead in the middle of the first but the potential power play goal was wiped out for a player being in the crease. Springman got a power play goal that counted to open the scoring in the second period when he beat Eric Hancock going back post on a feed from Tyler Jeanson. Elmore struck for the Blizzard with a power play goal late in the frame when he redirected a bounce off of the end wall past Lucas Murray. Brett Callahan gave the Blizzard a 2-1 lead in the third when with the Blizzard on the power play he fired a shot from the high slot through a screen to beat Murray. But again the Tauros battled back, with Johnny Walker pounding home a rebound off of Jake Dittel’s point shot with 4:31 to play. However with the Tauros killing a penalty in overtime T.J. Samec beat Murray from the high slot to give the Blizzard the win.
The two losses each came after regulation so the Tauros picked up a standings point for each. Next the Tauros will head to the NAHL Showcase event in Blaine, MN; where they will play four games in as many days. The event kicks off Wednesday night when the Tauros take on the Wichita Falls Wildcats at 7:15 p.m.