Tauros even playoff series with Aberdeen

Photo courtesy of the Aberdeen American News Minot Minotauros defenseman Connor McGinnis takes a shot during an NAHL playoff game Saturday in Aberdeen.

And now the best of five is down to the best of three.

Minot’s Grant Loven broke a scoreless tie with 11:09 left in the third period and Samu Lonkila bounced back from Friday night’s disastrous performance with a 34-save shut out to help the Minotauros even their NAHL Central Division playoff series with the Aberdeen Wings, 2-0 in game two. Minotauros forward Alex Adams added the empty netter to seal it.

“We found a way (Saturday) night,” said Minot head coach Marty Murray. “We had solid goaltending and got a timely goal in the third. You know, both goalies in the third period looked like they would keep us here a while and both played really well. No question though, this was a big bounce back for us after what happened during (Friday) night’s 6-0 loss.”

The Wings had scoring opportunities and out-shot the Minotauros 24-17 in the first two periods.

“Look, (Lonkila) played a good hockey game against us (Saturday) night,” said Wings head coach Scott Langer. “When you get your opportunities to put the puck into the back of the net in the playoffs, you have to put them home. Again, (Minot) just played a good hockey game. They were patient and they found (a goal) and we didn’t, and that was the difference.”

Loven picked up the loose puck and drove in two-on-one, beating Wings starting goal Matt Vernon with a backhand to make it a 1-0 lead. In his first two playoff games, Vernon has allowed one goal on 44 shots.

“We had one bad shift that led to that goal but no, that’s not on ‘Vernie,'” Langer said. “I thought our third period was really good. We controlled the play for most of it. It just came down to one bad shift, and it ended up costing us a game, but you can’t fault our effort for the whole game. I thought we came out in that third period and dominated, it just came down to that (bad) shift.”

Games three and four now shifts to Minot Friday and Saturday.

“We found a way to climb back in the series, but now we have make sure we have a good week of practice to be ready for Friday because I know (Aberdeen) will,” Murray said. “It’s not gonna get any easier that’s for sure.”

Wings center Nic Sicoly is well aware that when his team has the opportunity to score, they absolutely need to.

“Sometimes one bounce, one goal can mean the game,” Sicoly said. “We didn’t capitalize on our chances. I thought we played hard and paid attention to details, but one goal cost us and that’s the difference between winning and losing in the playoffs. We can’t allow that to happen and we won’t allow that to happen. We’re going be going in (to Minot) Friday ready to play. We’re gonna work on what we need to this week, go in there, and take it to them and steal a couple (games) back.”

The puck drop is at 7:35 p.m Friday and Saturday night at the Maysa Arena in Minot.