Blaine, MN – The Minotauros put up another strong showing at the NAHL Showcase this week going 3-0-1 against Springfield, Amarillo, Johnstown, and Maryland to leave Minnesota in first place in the Central Division. The Lone Star Brahmas were the only team to go 4-0-0 at the event to be named NAHL Showcase Champions.
The Tauros opened the Showcase with a 3-2 win over Springfield (box score). Despite missing part of training camp playing in Russia with Team NAHL Sam Skinner opened the scoring on the Tauros season just 2:40 into the game with assists from Dan Russell and Owen Baumgartner. Springfield answered back to tie the game but Braeden Bartoo restored the lead late in the period scoring from his knees with his back to the net. Just over a minute later the Jr. Blues would pull level again with a power play goals that snuck past a screened Ben Garrity. From there Garrity closed the door however and Ville Immonen scored on the power play in the second to give the Tauros a 3-2 lead. The Tauros closed out the game strong keeping the puck in the offensive zone for most of the final five minutes not allowing Springfield to get the extra attacker on until the final 20 seconds of regulation. That was not enough time and the Tauros held on to win 3-2.
On Thursday the Tauros faced off against a good veteran team in the Amarillo Bulls that took the Aberdeen Wings to three games in the Robertson Cup Semis last spring. The Bulls wasted no time taking a 1-0 lead just 11 seconds into the game (box score) when Matt Allen capitalized on a turnover right in front of Garrity. From that point on Garrity again stood out stopping everything that came his way. Isak Dahlin scored his first as a Tauro midway through the second to tie the game, the goal came about 29 hours after Dahlin arrived in America and joined the Tauros. Neither team could generate any more offense in regulation and the game headed to overtime. Noah Carlin turned a neutral zone turnover during the three-on-three OT into a partial breakaway. Bartoo caught him from behind and the duo along with the puck went crashing into Garrity and the goal. Somehow in all the chaos the puck slid past Garrity and was ruled to be in the net prior to the net being dislodged for a controversial game winning goal for Amarillo.
Friday would see the Tauros play yet another overtime game after coming from behind to draw even (box score). This time the Johnstown Tomahawks would jump out to a two-goal lead scoring twice on Sam Evola whom was making his junior debut. Evola would remain under fire for the rest of the afternoon but like Garrity the two days prior settled in and looked unbeatable. Cole O’Connell and Immonen answered back in the second period to tie the Tomahawks at two and that score held through to overtime. O’Connell’s goal, which came on the first shift of the second period, was especially big as the Tauros finished the first on their heels trailing by two. Bennett Stockdale was whistled for tripping just 11 seconds into extra time and Joseph McCollum took advantage of the extra space created with an overtime power play to improve the Tauros to 2-0-1.
The Tauros closed the Showcase with a look at a familiar face in Wilmer Skoog and his new team the Maryland Black Bears. The Tauros again would have to come from behind (box score) as Skoog opened the scoring 1:25 into the second. Nik Armstong-Kingkade answered back on the power play four and a half minutes later with a goal that deflected off of a defenseman’s stick past a stunned Andrew Takacs. The Tauros took advantage of the shaken goaltender again 39 seconds later when Jack Westlund scored his first as a Tauro to give the Tauros a 2-1 lead heading into the third. The Tauros would fail to cash in on two five-on-three advantages late in the second and early in the third but O’Connell finally added an insurance goal at 7:15 of the third with help from Kevin Ness on the rush. The Tauros first two goal lead on the season was cut back down to one when Maryland pulled their goalie for an extra attacker late but Garrity would not be beat again and the Tauros improved to 3-0-1.
Next up the Tauros head to St. Cloud, Minnesota, to take on the Saint Cloud Blizzard, for their first home opener in their new city. The Tauros will stay on the road until October 11th when the Aberdeen Wings come to the Maysa Arena for the Tauros home opener. Tickets are still available through the “Tickets” tab atop this page.