by John Peterson
The top seeded team in the Central Division playoffs has life. After dropping their playoff opener Friday night on home ice, the #1 Austin Bruins responded with a thrilling 2-1 win Saturday at Riverside Arena in Austin, defeating the #4 Minot Minotauros to even up the first-round playoff series at a game apiece.
For the second night in a row, the Bruins jumped out to an early 1-0 lead in the opening minutes of the game. Drew Anderson (Rochester, MN) scored the goal on a rocket off the crossbar and in to the net from a shot taken in the left circle. Austin held on to that lead for the majority of the opening frame, but the Minotauros tied the game with 2:30 left in the period. Jadin Martin’s (Minot, ND) shot from the right circle was knocked down in traffic in front of the Bruins net, and Jake McCann (Shoreview, MN) shoveled in the rebound. Austin outshot Minot 9-7 in the first.
The ice was slanted in the Bruins favor in the second period, as Austin peppered Minot goalie Merrick Madsen (Acton, CA) with 17 shots. The Minotauros managed just 5 shots on Bruins’ goalie Nick Lehr (Roseville, MN). Late in the period, Guillaume Leclerc (Franois, France) beat two Minot defensemen to a puck behind the Minotauros net with a terrific forecheck, and centered a pass to the slot that Jay Dickman (Shoreview, MN) tapped into the net to give Austin the lead for good.
The Bruins team defense was strong with a one-goal lead in the third period, holding the Tauros to just two shots. With an empty net in the waning seconds, Minot had one great chance to tie the game on a centering feed that kicked out front with two seconds left. Lehr robbed Martin’s one-timer at the buzzer to preserve the 2-1 win. The University of Minnesota recruit stopped 13 shots in the victory, while Madsen stopped 31 in the loss.
Next weekend, the Bruins head out to Minot for Games 3 and 4 of the Central Division Semifinals at Maysa Arena Friday and Saturday night. With the series tied 1-1, a sweep for either team would win the series. If Game 5 is needed, it would be played Monday night in Austin at Riverside Arena at 7:05pm. Games 3 and 4 will start at 7:35pm Friday and Saturday night, and both games can be seen on fasthockey.com or heard on 1480AM KAUS in Austin.