A modest reflection

What could have been, alas a memorable season for the Minotauros

Alex Eisen/MDN Minotauros defensemen Connor McGinnis (16) and Jake Rosenbaum (7) exchange a hug with the Robertson Cup in the background after Minot fell 2-1 to the Shreveport Mudbugs in the NAHL Championship game Monday evening in Blaine, Minnesota.

There it was. The Robertson Cup. In sight, but unworthy to be touched.

One period separated the Minot Minotauros from what seemed like their destiny.

From the last North American Hockey League team to make it into the playoffs to being the last team standing, it would have been the perfect ending to an unbelievable story.

Yet, it was too good to be true.

The Shreveport Mudbugs shattered dreams with a third period dagger in the NAHL Championship game to seal a 2-1 victory. A goal they will remember forever and a heartbreaker that the Minotauros will want to forget.

“This stings for sure,” Minotauros coach Marty Murray said. “But, we will be able to look back on it and realize we made a pretty big accomplishment down the stretch.”

A silver lining that tried to pierce through a hushed locker room Monday evening while the Mudbugs skated victory laps around the Fogerty Ice Arena in Blaine, Minnesota, with the coveted Robertson Cup.

In that moment, looking around at all the blank stares, coming to terms that this was the best season in Minotauros’ history was inconceivable because it sure didn’t feel like it.

To come that close to achieving the so-called impossible and then to have it ripped away, that’s torture. But, in the turmoil of misery, the Minotauros kept reminding themselves what they had been through to help ease the pain.

“We accomplished a lot when nobody expected much from us,” defenseman Nolan Sawchuk said. “It sucks the way it ended, but I’m proud of the boys.”

The salvation of this remarkable season is reliant on remembering the journey.

“We had every reason to pack it in and go home five weeks ago,” Murray said. “But, they stuck with it. It was neat to see them come together as a team and want to go through a brick wall for each other. I can’t say enough about the character of this group.”

Faced with relentless adversity throughout the season, the Minotauros were inadvertently prepared for dealing with such a devastating final blow in the grand finale.

Turns out that was their destiny.

As for what the future holds, no one knows and that’s the beauty of sports.

For Sawchuk, life moves on. After hanging up his Minotauros’ sweater for the last time, he walked out of the sobering locker room Monday for a departing interview and provided a final farewell.

“It was unbelievable,” Sawchuk said about his time with the Minotauros. “I mean, the way this team came together and the way the community supported us through all the hard times and good times. My coaching staff, coach Marty (Murray) and coach Wags (Shane Wagner), and everything they have done for me has been great.

“The fan support and the community are going to be missed greatly. They do anything for the Tauros. It’s great to see. Hopefully, they will get a Robertson Cup down the road here because they really do deserve it.”

Alex Eisen covers Minot High School, Minot State athletics and high school sports. Follow him on Twitter @AEisen13.