Minot, ND – The Minotauros head into the NAHL Christmas break as the hottest team in the Central Division. The Tauros .714 point percentage since the start of November is the best by far in the Central Division with St. Cloud’s .576 being the next best divisional showing. The Tauros have ridden that success to the division’s most wins (17) and a tie with the Austin Bruins with 35 standing points through the season’s first half. It was those Bruins who came to the Maysa this weekend for a battle of the Central’s top two teams and the games lived up to the hype.
Friday night the Tauros would dominate the play. A pair of Connor McGrath goals in the first period put the Tauros up 2-0 early. In a penalty filled second period the Bruins would strike to cut it to 2-1 but Ben Johnson scored a shorthanded goal just four minutes later to restore the two-goal cushion. It was the Tauros fourth shorthanded goal against the Austin Bruins this season and fifth overall. In the middle portion of the third Braydon Beahm netted his sixth of the season on the power play to make it a 4-1 game and let the Tauros coast to victory in front of Carter Clafton who stopped 21 of 22.
Saturday night was the Tauros annual SCHEELS Teddy Bear Toss Night but it was the Bruins turn to jump out to a 2-0 lead and make the Tauros fans wait to throw their bears. Jack Malinski beat Clafton just 12 seconds into the game on a shot that deflected off of a Tauros defender. Ocean Wallace double the Bruin lead with a blast on the power play late in the second to put the Tauros deeper into the hole. Dean Schwenninger, who returned the lineup for the first time since early November with two assists Friday night, finally brought a record 972 Teddy Bears over the glass 20 seconds into the third. It was the Tauros latest Teddy Bear goal in the 10 year history of Tauros Teddy Bear Tosses, and it pulled the Tauros within one. The Tauros would tie it up in the middle of the period when Huston Karpman scored his 11th of the season setting up a wild finish.
A power play goal for the Bruins four minutes after Karpman’s strike would make it 3-2 Bruins but Schwenninger and Braden Panzer would each strike for the Tauros to turn the score over to 4-3 Tauros. But another deflection off of a Tauros defender’s stick got Nakodan Greyeyes his first Bruins goal to tie it at four with 1:56 to play and then in the final minute Sutter Muzzatti set up Isaak Brassard from behind the net for a one-timer to win it in regulation for the Bruins.
The weekend split keeps the Tauros and Bruins tied atop the Central with another meeting coming the first weekend of January. The team combined for 224 penalty minutes this weekend which was up slightly from 218 the last time these teams met. Before the Tauros rematch with the Bruins they will face the rival Bismarck Bobcats in a home-and-home starting on December 30th on the Pepsi Rink at Maysa Arena followed by the annual New Years Eve meeting in Bismarck. Tickets to the December 30th game are available here or through the “Tickets” tab atop this page.