by: Ken Oda, minotauroshockey.com
The Minotauros finished their long trip to Alaska with a bang on Saturday night with a thrilling third period comeback to earn a split with the defending champion Fairbanks Ice Dogs. After a dropping a close game on Friday by a 3-2 score and a pair of failed third period power plays on Saturday it looked as if the Tauros were headed for a similar result on Friday. Unlike the night before however the Tauros were able not only to find the equalizer but found the game winner as well.
On Friday night, the Tauros got off to a slow start, Atte Tolvanen faced 16 shots while the Tauros managed only 4. Then when the Tauros had a rare offensive chance Yannick Vedel scored shorthanded for Fairbanks to give them a 1-0 lead. The lead held into the first intermission but not much longer as Jake Howie answered Fairbanks’s shorty with one of his own. Fairbanks answered back however with a pair of goals in the middle of the period when Lonnie Clary and Cayden Cahill struck less than two minutes apart pushed the score to 3-1. Nick Monfils scored early in the third but the Tauros could not find the equalizer and fell 3-2.
In Saturday night’s rematch the Tauros once again found themselves down 1-0 when Ethan Somoza scored just 3:02 in. Mid way through the period Johnny Walker found a Jared Brandt rebound and tucked it home for his sixth of the season drawing the Tauros even. They teams skated over 20 minutes in a 1-1 tie until Somoza struck again when his pass from behind the goal line banked in. James Mathias again pulled the Tauros even on a five-on-three power play putting a rebound in behind Chase Munroe. The Ice Dogs would get a power play goal of their own however when Chandler Madry blasted a point shot through traffic past Tolvanen to restore the Fairbanks lead. After a pair of power plays allowed the Tauros to generate some momentum despite not scoring they finally found the equalizer with just over seven minutes to play. Blake Lizotte got his first of the season when he redirected Brandt’s shot shot from the blue line past Madry. Then as it appeared the teams would head to overtime Nick Monfils went coast to coast stickhandling through several defenders before lifting a puck over Madry’s glove and into the net for the game winner.
The Saturday victory gave the Tauros a 2-1-1 record on the Alaska trip and improved their overall record to 5-3-1. The Tauros will return to the lower 48 on Monday, and then head to Aberdeen on Friday for their 10th game of the season, nine of which have been played away from the Maysa. Saturday the team finally returns to Minot for their second home game in a rematch of the home opener against Austin.