AUSTIN, Minn. – Despite hurling nearly 40 shots on goal, the Austin Bruins couldn’t find the back of the net and were shutout by the Minot Minotauros, 2-0, on Saturday night.
Following Friday night’s overtime loss at the hands of the ‘Tauros, it was crucial for the Bruins to come out strong on Saturday with a frenzied pace. Try as they might, the Bruins just couldn’t solve verteran netminder Keenan Rancier. In a near identical scenario as Friday night’s game, it was Minot who scored the game’s first goal with 3:26 remaining in the first. Following a turnover in the Bruins d-zone, Minot forward Kyle Kukkonen slipped in behind the Bruins defense and slipped a shot through the five-hole of Tyler Shea for the 1-0 Minot lead. For Kukkonen, it was his second goal of the season in just his fifth game played with the Minotauros.
In the second period, neither team was able to get up on the scoreboard but the stat sheet saw plenty of activity. With 11:37 remaining in the middle frame a melee broke out in the Bruins offensive end. Braiden Simmons-Fischer leveled a Minotauro player to the ice and in the process fell on top of his target. This drew the ire of the other ‘Tauros, including Max Bogdanovich, who retaliated with a check to the head of Simmons-Fischer which laid out the 6-foot-7 Bruins forward on the ice. Coming to avenge his teammate, Cullen Rush squared up with Bogdanovich. In the process, Bogdanovich earned himself a second head contact penalty, with a total of four infractions going against him including the two head contacts, a fighting major, and a 10-minute game misconduct for fighting. In the midst of the Rush and Bogdanovich battle, Bruins forward Teppie Ueno got into a heated discussion with Minotauros forward Trevor Stachowiak. Ueno was quickly removed from the argument by Camden Gallagher who better matched up in size with Stachowiak and the two exchanged pushes and shoves, earning them each a double-minor for roughing. Once the dust settled, the Bruins had earned an extended Chad Thomas Thrivent Financial Power Play with the chance to tie the game. Halfway through the man-advantage, Simmons-Fischer was whistled for tripping, evening the players on ice at four-on-four. Austin still had some hangover time from their five-minute power play once the Simmons-Fischer penalty was served, but the black-and-gold just couldn’t get the puck past Rancier.
Minot got an insurance goal in the third period when defenseman Jacob Thomas ripped a wrist-shot from the center of the blue line, that sailed past the outstretched left skate of Shea, giving Minot the 2-0 Minot lead. The Bruins won the shot battle by ending 36 total chances on goal, but Rancier was perfect on all of them, earning the win and the shoutout. On the other end, Tyler Shea stood tall once again for the Bruins by turing aside 24 of 26 total shots, but it wasn’t enough as he was handed the loss. Following the defeat, the Bruins have lost four consecutive games and sit with a record of 3-4-2-0 going into their series against the Bismarck Bobcats next weekend. The Minotauros improved their record to 7-3-2-1 with the victory.
The Bruins are back in North Dakota on December 11 and 12 for their first matchup of the season against the Bismarck Bobcats. Austin remains one standings point behind the Bobcats for third in the NAHL Central Division and the stage is set for the rivalry to renew. Both games will drop the puck at 7:15 P.M. CST from the VFW Sports Center in Bismarck, ND, with radio coverage on Power 96 and video streaming on HockeyTV beginning at 7:05.