Besting the Bruins

Minotauros outlast Austin in a Central Division clash

Justin Martinez/MDN Fritz Belisle (center) navigates past a trio of defenders during the Minotauros' home NAHL game against the Austin Bruins Friday at Maysa Arena.

After trailing all night, the Minot Minotauros got their first lead of the game when it mattered most.

The Minotauros (11-4-0) prevailed at home Friday evening in a showdown between two teams fighting for the top spot in the Central Division. Minot bested the Austin Bruins (10-2-3), 4-2, thanks to a pair of third-period goals.

“These were two good teams playing,” Minotauros head coach Marty Murray said. “They had us on our heels, but we’re happy to get the win.”

The Bruins didn’t make it easy for Minot and knocked the air out of those at the Maysa Arena in the early moments.

Bruins forward Dante Sheriff sliced through the Minotauros’ defense and sent a bullet of shot past Minot goaltender Nicholas Grabko. The puck smacked the top right corner of the net, giving the Bruins a 1-0 lead just two minutes into the first period.

“We made a high risk play at the blue line and put (Sheriff) in a position to score a goal,” Murray said. “He just took advantage. We have to manage the puck better because if you give good teams opportunities like that they’ll capitalize.”

With under a minute remaining in the first period, the Minotauros caught the Bruins snoozing. Minot forward David Raisanen emerged from a battle for the puck just a few inches away from Bruins goaltender Brett Miller and flipped a shot past him for the close-range goal, knotting the score at 1-1.

“That goal gave us a lot of confidence,” Raisanen said. “We just wanted to keep going strong after that in the second and third period.”

The Bruins kicked off the second period the same way they kicked off the first. Austin forward Levi Stauber scored with just a minute and a half shaved off the clock, giving his team a 2-1 edge.

But the Minotauros responded once again. This time it was Sam Skinner who delivered, as the defenseman sent a strike across his body that found the top left shelf and tied the game at 2-2 with 11:13 left in the second period. The clutch score marked Skinner’s first goal of the season.

Both teams remained deadlocked at two goals apiece when the final seconds of the second period ticked away. Little did the Bruins know, a storm was coming in the third.

This time it was the Minotauros kicking off a period with a bang. Didrik Henbrant found some space and took advantage, scoring off an assist from Wilmer Skoog two minutes in to give Minot its first lead of the game.

With the Bruins still reeling, Kyle Oleksiuk went for the knockout blow. The forward found the back of the net just 46 seconds later, padding the Minotauros’ lead to 4-2.

“Coach just told us to pull away with the game and not stay back,” Raisanen said. “We just wanted to finish it and get the win.”

The Bruins managed to put one more goal on the board in the closing minutes, but Minot’s two-goal burst proved to be enough as the Minotauros claimed the 4-3 win. Grabko finished with 21 saves in the victory.

“I think this win shows that we have a lot of resiliency,” Raisanen said. “We just never give up. This was a huge one.”

The Minotauros will take on the Bruins in a rematch this evening at the Maysa Arena. Puck drop is set for 7:35 p.m.

Justin Martinez covers Minot High School sports and Class B high school sports. Follow him on Twitter @JTheSportsDude.