After falling on Friday night at the hands of the Minot Minotauros 7-1, the Austin Bruins made sure not to repeat their fortunes on Saturday, taking down the ‘Tauros in a tough-battle, 3-2.
Almost the entire first period went by before a goal was scored, but Jed Pietila made sure to send the Bruins into the locker room with a lead. With only 19 seconds left to go in the first, Pitila took a pass from Chase Pilawski and fired it through a litany of bodies in front and somehow the puck found its way through and past Minot netminder AJ Ruskowski.
With the 1-0 lead out of the intermission, the Bruins continued to scrape but Minot battled back. Jay Bucholz evened the score midway through the second period at 1-1. The Bruins didn’t take the game-tying goal lightly and only needed 2:35 and a powerplay to regain the lead. Dante Sheriff fired off a wrist shot which caught a good chunk of Ruskowski’s arm but the netminder didn’t get enough as it hopped across the goal-line giving the Bruins the 2-1 lead. Minot continued to keep things close evening the score when Andranik Armstrong-Kingkade beat Bruins goalie Brett Miller with less than three minutes in the period.
It was obvious from the outset that the game was going to be close and likley need to be decided in the final frame, and that’s exactly what the fans at Riverside Arena witnessed. In the final frame, the Bruins managed to take the lead, this time for good, when Hugh Larkin netted the team’s second power-play goal of the night. Multiple Bruins came crashing the net and once again Ruskowski got a piece but not enough and the Bruins took their third lead of the night, this time not stopping. It came down to the final buzzer with Miller making multiple incredible saves in the final minute and a half, but the Bruins outlasted the Minotauros extra-attacker and earned the win, 3-2, and the weekend split.
With the victory, the Bruins improved to 21-10-2-4 on the season while Minot slipped to 20-12-1-4. Elsewhere in the NAHL, the Bismarck Bobcats were shut out by the Minnesota Wilderness which, coupled with the Bruins’ win, allowed Austin to take sole possession of second place in the NAHL Central Division.
Up next for the Bruins, they hit the road for four games before returning home to Riverside Arena. The Bruins take on Chippewa for a pair of games next weekend, followed by a pair in Minot the following weekend. The next home game for the black-and-gold is Saturday, February 8, 2020 which is the team’s annual Paint the Rink Pink game. Riverside Arena ice will be dressed in pink, the Bruins will be wearing custom pink uniforms available for auction after the game, and the players will be performing skits following the final horn.