Bruins net three unanswered, top Minotauros Saturday, 3-1

Sean Williams/MDN Chase LaPinta (26) of the Minot Minotauros fires a shot on goal against the Austin Bruins on Saturday night at the Maysa Arena.

Picking up their first win of the season over the Austin Bruins (24-8-7), who sit atop the North American Hockey League (NAHL) Central Division, were the Minot Minotauros (20-16-2) as they looked to pull off a sweep on Saturday night.

Mirroring the theme of Superhero Night at the Maysa, the Tauros would need a heroic-like effort to secure a sweep and put a dent in the separation between themselves and the Bruins. Following an early deficit, the Bruins would score three unanswered goals as they played spoilers to avoid the sweep with a 3-1 win over the Tauros.

After being a scratch in Friday night’s contest, forward Hunter Longhi made his presence felt immediately when he generated a breakaway rush with Chase LaPinta and hit LaPinta on a perfect pass that created a wide-open net.

Lighting the lamp was LaPinta, as the future Arizona State Sun Devil gave the Tauros a 1-0 lead with under a minute played in the opening period. The goal by LaPinta was his third of the weekend and his 22nd of the season to lead the team.

With 4:47 left in the period, Bruins’ goalie Trent Wiemken took a boot to the head and was down on the ice for a few minutes in what was a scary moment. Wiemken would stay in the game, however, and the Tauros were hit with a two-minute charging penalty as a result of the play.

Despite the Bruins generating a handful of chances on offense, Noah Rupprecht held them scoreless in the first period. Rupprecht ignited the crowd during the penalty kill, making a slick glove save in the final 30 seconds of the advantage. The Bruins would lead in shots on goal at 15-5, but the Tauros would hold a 1-0 lead heading into the first intermission.

The intensity between the two teams heightened in period two, as they combined for three penalties and the Tauros had their first two power play opportunities of the evening. They would come up empty on both. The Bruins, however, would not as Walter Zacher cashed in on a power-play goal with 7:22 left in the second frame to even the contest at 1-1.

Keeping the damage minimal, the Tauros got a boost down the stretch from the defense of Joe Blackley, who blocked two consecutive shots on an offensive rush by the Bruins to eliminate the threat. Making up ground in shots on goal, the Tauros outshot the Bruins 9-6 in the period, but still trailed 21-14 in total as the teams were locked in a 1-1 tie heading into the final period.

With under five minutes off the clock in the final period, the Bruins took their first lead of the night on a goal by Erik Hernborn, the first of his career, to make it a 2-1 Bruins’ advantage. After scoring with less than a minute into the game, the Tauros were struggling to find the back of the net up to this point.

When Austin Salani of the Bruins took a tripping penalty with 10:16 left in the contest, it felt like a pivotal power play chance for the Tauros and one that they needed to capitalize on. Unfortunately, they would not be able to generate much and would continue to see a 2-1 deficit.

The Tauros would get one more opportunity on the power play with 3:51 left, but this opportunity mirrored the previous one, in what ended up being a struggling power play unit from start to finish.

Rupprecht would get pulled with two minutes to go, but the Bruins would tack on one more on an empty netter by Ethan Lindahl with 23 seconds left, bringing the game to its final of 3-1 in favor of the Bruins.

Applying heavy pressure in the third period, the Bruins would end the night outshooting the Tauros 41-20. Rupprecht finished the game stopping 39 of the 41 shots he faced.

On Friday and Saturday, the Tauros will hit the road for a two-game series against the Aberdeen Wings. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:15 p.m. both nights.


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