by John Peterson
All winning streaks eventually come to an end. After a 4-0 start to the season, the NAHL Showcase Champion Austin Bruins suffered its first loss of the 2014-15 campaign Friday. The Bruins (4-1-0) were shutout 4-0 by a revamped Minot Minotauros (3-2-0) team, led by goaltender Atte Tolvanen (Vihti, Finland) at Maysa Arena to open the first weekend of the regular season.
In the first meeting between the two rivals since April’s “Minot Marathon” in the Central Division Finals, the Tauros snapped a scoreless tie late in the first period when Jacob Howie (Grand Blanc, MI) picked up his first goal of the season. Howie snuck behind the Austin defense and beat Bruins goalie Zach Driscoll (Apple Valley, MN – St. Cloud State) on a breakaway at 16:56 of the frame. Driscoll stopped 12 first period shots in what would be his first career loss.
Minot added to the lead at 8:48 of the second period, when Chase Springman (Zimmerman, MN) jammed in a rebound out of a goal-mouth scramble. Less than five minutes later, new addition James Mathias (Ontario, CA) added an insurance goal to give the Tauros a 3-0 lead going into the second intermission.
The Bruins penalty continued its success, killing all four penalties, but its power-play struggles extended beyond the Showcase. Austin was 0-for-3 on the man advantage. Christian Mohs’ (Andover, MN) one-timer in the final minutes of the game sealed Minot’s win in its home opener. Tolvanen blanked the Bruins with a 31-save shutout, while Driscoll stopped 25 of 29 Tauros shots in the defeat.
Saturday night, Austin will play Bismarck for the first time in a rematch of the Central Division Finals at 7:15pm at the VFW Center in Bismarck. The Bruins’ home-opener is slated for next Friday, October 3 vs. Aberdeen at 7:05pm at Riverside Arena in Austin.