By: Ken Oda, gotauros.com
Photo Credit: Eric Johnson, Austin Daily Herald
Austin, MN – What a difference a week makes. The Tauros have gone from one loss away from being eliminated from the playoffs trailing the Aberdeen Wings two games to one in the Central Division Semi-Finals, to one win away from capturing the Central Cup and sweeping the Austin Bruins in the Central Finals. The Tauros, the fourth seed in the central and sixteenth seed overall in the Robertson Cup Playoffs went to Austin this weekend and won the first two games in the best-of-five Central Finals giving themselves two chances to close the series out at home next weekend.
On Friday night the Tauros and Bruins spent most of the first period feeling each other out with just nine combined shots on goal. Austin Koss finally opened the scoring in the series just 1:37 into the second when Michael Talbot found him on a two-on-one rush. Koss who was falling as the pass arrived still managed to tip it to the open side of the net to give the Tauros a 1-0 lead. Travis Kothenbeutel temporarily drew the Bruins even when he found a loose puck in the left circle and put it past Samu Lonkila just six minutes after Koss had scored. The Tauros responded quickly however as Keenan Lund used a nice power move on the rush lowering his shoulder and getting around a defenseman before hoisting a shot bar-down past Alex Schilling. Grant Loven scored a key insurance goal early in the third to extend the Tauro lead to 3-1 and Alex Adams hit the empty next with just under three minutes to play to ice the win away for the Tauros as Lonkila stopped all but one of the 24 shots he faced.
Saturday night the Bruins came out with a big push early trying to set the tone. Two quick goals, one on the power play from Evan Cholak followed 27 seconds later by an even strength marker from Levi Stauber put the Tauros in an early hole. It appeared the Tauros would head to the locker room down 2-0 after one, but with 0.2 seconds on the clock David Raisanen scored to make it 2-1. The second passed with no goals despite some great scoring chances for the Tauros. Just 1:39 into the third Taylor Lantz scored going coast-to-coast on the rush. As he approached the goal Lantz was pulled down and several players went sliding towards the goal, somehow in all the mess the puck snuck past Schilling and the Tauros were even. No one would score again in regulation and the teams headed to overtime. Just 2:38 into the fourth period Adams won a battle behind the Austin goal and found Raisanen alone in front for the game winner.
The weekend sweep gives the Tauros a 2-0 lead in the best-of-five series as the series shifts to Minot next Friday. If needed Game Four would be played on Saturday night at the Maysa Arena as well. The winner of the series gets the Central Cup and moves on to represent the Division at the Robertson Cup tournament May 11-14, in Blaine, Minnesota. Tickets for Game Three are on sale now, to celebrate the Tauros setting a franchise attendance record, all tickets for the Central Finals are just $5.