By Andrew Lennox Minot, ND -The Minotauros secured a hard-fought 3-2 victory over the Austin Bruins on Friday night at the Maysa Arena in the Magic City. Despite being outshot 41-20, the Tauros held on for the win thanks to a standout performance from netminder Noah Rupprecht who made 39 saves on 41 shots.
Just 5:44 into the first frame, Tory Lund scored the game’s first goal on the power play. The goal came from a failed clearing attempt by an Austin defender, which led to Colby Joseph retrieving the puck and passing it to Lund in the high slot. Lund then beat Austin goalie Ethan Robertson shooting top corner on the goalie’s glove side to log his fourth goal of the season. Defenseman Nick O’Hanisain picked up the secondary assist.
Minot would add another goal with 5:27 left in the first period when Chase LaPinta won a foot race battle with an Austin defender, cutting in from the wing and firing a seeing-eye shot past Robertson to make it 2-0. Trent Wiemken replaced Robertson after the tally.
The second period was scoreless, with the Bruins outshooting the Tauros 10-4. However, tempers began to flare as the period progressed when a fight between Minot’s LaPinta and Austin’s James Goffredo in the Bruins’ defensive zone broke out. Both players were assessed five-minute major penalties and ten-minute misconducts for their involvement in the altercation.
In the third period, the Bruins finally got on the scoreboard, making it 2-1 when Matthew Desiderio followed up on a rebound to log his third goal of the season with 10:52 left in regulation. With just 2:24 left on the clock, Austin head coach Steve Howard made the strategic move to pull goaltender Trent Wiemken for an extra attacker. Despite this effort, Minot’s LaPinta sealed the victory with an empty net goal, which was his second marker of the game.
The Tauros battled and clinched the 3-2 win over Austin, even after being outplayed at times during the contest. Minot earned their first win in seven attempts against the Bruins. The victory was particularly impressive as it came without the services of their leading scorer Hunter Longhi, who was absent due to an illness. Despite a last-minute goal from Austin, the Tauros were still able to close out the contest with a win.
On Saturday, the Tauros started off strong when Chase LaPinta scored 32 seconds into the first period, netting his 22nd goal. The tally resulted from a well-executed cross-crease backdoor pass from Hunter Longhi. LaPinta had a productive weekend, scoring three goals in total, and in January alone, he has recorded nine markers.
As the game progressed, the second period was slow, with only one goal being recorded by the two teams. Austin Zacher of the Bruins scored the lone goal with 7:22 left. He received a pass from behind the net from Sam Christiano, with Austin Salani adding an assist also.
The third period began with the game tied at 1-1, but the Bruins soon were able to take the lead when Eric Hernborn beat two Tauros wide and cut across the crease, scoring the first goal of his junior career just 4:09 into the period.
Despite their efforts, the Tauros were unable to even the score, with two power play opportunities late in the game. Ultimately, the Bruins sealed the deal with an empty net goal from Ethan Lindahl, securing a 3-1 win and a series split.
Hunter Longhi returned to the lineup after missing Friday’s game due to an illness. He contributed an assist, bringing his season total to 32. The Collinsville, Illinois native is now trailing behind former Tauro and current Los Angeles King Blake Lizotte, who holds the record for the most assists in a single season with 38.
Next up, the Tauros head to Aberdeen for the first time this season to kick off four straight games against the Wings. The two bitter rivals are locked in a tight back-and-forth battle for second place in the Central. After next weekend in Aberdeen, the teams will meet again in Minot on February 10th and 11th. Tickets for that weekend and all remaining home games are available through the “Tickets” tab atop this page or by visiting tickets.minotauroshockey.com!