by John Peterson
Saturday night’s rematch between the Austin Bruins (18-9-9) and Minot Minotauros (23-8-4) might be the tightest officiated game in the NAHL this year, after the circus that came to town Friday night at Riverside Arena in Austin. A game that saw 116 penalty minutes ended in a shootout where Minot edged Austin 3-2.
95 of the penalty minutes came in the opening period. That’s not a typo. There were 12 combined shots on goal in the frame and 20 infractions. Bruins captain Brian Bachnak (Riverview, MI) was given a game misconduct for slugging Minot forward Johnny Walker (Phoenix, AZ) after Walker hit Cory Dunn (Trenton, MI) from behind. Walker’s non-hockey related antics could have gotten him tossed multiple times Friday, but each time he avoided it.
Austin’s Jake Arroyo (Bolingbrook, IL) was knocked out of the game in the first period, as was Pat Lauderdale (Eden Prairie, MN) after taking hits up in the head area, and the Bruins nearly lost Jacob Kullberg (Kallered, Sweden) who was victimized by a knee-to-knee hit late in the second. The Tauros Jacob Dittel (Hugo, MN) was given the gate for that action. Also, Austin’s Jade Miller (Minto, ND) was ejected for a check from behind in the middle period.
Those were just the penalties that sent players to the showers early.
Now to the hockey. The Bruins took a 1-0 lead at 3:50 of the second period, when Josh Wilkins (Cary, NC) fed a terrific pass to Luke Forfar (Darien, IL) from behind the Tauros’ net. Forfar snapped the one-timer past goalie Atte Tolvanen (Vihti, Finland). On a Minot turnover less than two minutes later, Forfar blasted his second goal by Tolvanen into the top corner to make it 2-0.
Late in the stanza, the Tauros cut the lead in half when Casey Johnson (Grand Forks, ND) fired a point shot that pinballed off of bodies in front and past Austin goalie Jake Kielly (Eden Prairie, MN) for Minot’s first power-play tally on seven attempts at that point.
Late in the third period, with little gas left in the tank, the Bruins were short-handed again when Forfar was called for a slash. On the ensuing power-play, Nick Monfils (Oshkosh, WI) knocked in a rebound to force overtime. After a scoreless five minutes of extra hockey, Minot edged Austin 3-2 in the shootout to win the game by that same score. Tolvanen stopped 20 in the win, while Kielly saved 19 in the loss and the Tauros pad their lead in the Central Division to five points over the Bruins in the standings.
That sets up tomorrow’s rematch and the final meeting between these teams in the regular season. Game time is scheduled for 7:05pm at Riverside Arena, and with all the injuries and suspensions that resulted from Friday’s game, expect Saturday’s rosters to look a lot different in a game is sure to be far more subdued. But we’ll see.