By: Ken Oda, minotauroshockey.com
Photo credit: Alex Eisen, Minot Daily News
Aberdeen, SD – Last season the Minotauros went into the playoffs as the top seed in the Central Division and were upended by the fourth seeded Aberdeen Wings. This season it was the Wings who had the division’s best record and as fate would have it the Tauros sat in the fourth and final playoff spot. The teams split the first four games of the series, with Aberdeen winning Games One and Three and the Tauros taking Games Two and Four setting up a decisive Game Five on Monday night.
Samu Lonkila was tested right off the hop when a turnover sent Jonathan Bendorf in alone on the Tauro goaltender on the game’s first shift. Lonkila’s first save of the night was a harbinger of things to come as the Wings had several “grade A” opportunities. However it was, Ryan Green who opened the scoring for the second game in a row finding a loose puck and firing it through traffic past Matt Vernon. That goal held up as the only of the period despite 17 Aberdeen shots and the Tauros led 1-0 at the first break.
That score held through the second period as well as the Tauros managed just five shots on goal in the period but Lonkila turned away all 10 Aberdeen chances. The Wings kept the pressure on in the third but at 12:29 Jake Rosenbaum fought the puck out along the wall in the Tauros’ zone before passing it up to Keenan Lund. Lund started Ondrej Pavel into the Wings zone and the Tauro centerman beat Vernon from the high slot to double the Tauro lead. Nolan Sawchuk finished the Wings off exactly 3:00 later when he ripped a shot through traffic past Vernon from the point to make it 3-0 with 4:31 to play.
From there Lonkila stopped every Aberdeen chance to complete the shutout and the Tauros won 3-0 to advance to the Central Division Finals against the Austin Bruins. The Central Division Finals start Friday in Austin with Game One at 7:05. Full schedule and ticket info will be released soon on minotauroshockey.com.