Nov. 12—It is still relatively early in the NAHL season, but two things are clear. The Austin Bruins and Minot Minotauros are very evenly matched and neither team wants to give up an inch.
The Bruins were able to make a late surge to come out on top by a score of 4-3 in overtime in a battle of the top two teams in the NAHL Central Division in Riverside Arena Friday night.
Austin has now played the Minotauros (10-6-1-1 overall) in three straight games and each one has been highly contested. This one was no different as it came down the final shot.
The Bruins executed perfectly as they scored just 13 seconds into a four-on-three power play to win the game after Gavin Morrissey delivered a pass to Damon Furuseth, who slapped it home on a one-timer with 3:59 left in the extra session.
"That pass was right there. Gavin came right across the middle and he did a good job of finding me," said Furuseth, a second year player from Fargo, North Dakota, who now has three goals this season. "It was definitely a good game tonight and it's going to be a good matchup with them all year long."
The Bruins (11-2-1-3 overall) had tied things up 3-3 when Matthew Desiderio put one in with 6:03 left in regulation after they saw a one goal lead turn into a one goal deficit within a one-minute stretch early in the third period. Chase LaPinta scored a breakaway goal to tie it up at 2-2 and Jan Kasper-Bergman made it a one-goal Minot lead.
Things were tied at 1-1 halfway through the second period when Minot goalie Lawton Zacher, who is the younger brother of Bruins forward Walter Zacher, was knocked to the ice on a collision and taken out of the game due to an injury. Dylan Cook was hit with a five-minute major and a game misconduct on the play and Austin was able to kill that power play and stay in the game without any damage.
The Bruins came out with a burst of energy after that stop and they seized a 2-1 lead when Walter Zacher scored his eight goal of the season on a put-back power play goal with 43.6 seconds left in the second period.
Walter Zacher, who is from Buffalo, NY, celebrated his goal, but he did worry about his brother Lawton, who had 16 saves on 17 shots before exiting the game. The Zacher brothers had never played against each other before last week's games.
"We've been on the same team before and it's definitely been weird going up against (Lawton)," Walter Zacher said. "But it's pretty special to be able to do it and it's nice to have him come play here so we can bring a little bit of home to the Midwest. It's family first and I was worried about him when he went down."
After a scoreless first period, it took six seconds into the second period for the Bruins to get on the board when Furuseth crashed in and hit the net on a five-on-three power play that began at the end of the first.
The Bruins faced a pair of power plays in the first period, but Ethan Robertson, who finished with 29 saves, held strong in the net as he kept the Minotauros from grabbing early momentum.
The Bruins wore camouflage jerseys in honor of Veteran's Day and they will auction those jerseys right after Saturday's game against Minot in Riverside Arena. Face-off is at 7:05 p.m.
Austin will look to stay on top of the division as the team has a good combination of veteran leadership and rookie enthusiasm.
"In practice, we're making sure nobody lets down," Walter Zacher said. "We've got to stay on it."
Minot 0 1 2 0 — 3
Austin 1 1 1 1 — 4
(A) Damon Furuseth (Walter Zacher, Austin Salini) (power play) 0:07
(M) Joe Westlund 3:47
(A) Zacher (Salani) (power play) 19:17
(M) Chase LaPinta (Nick O'Hanisain) 4:09
(M) Jan Kasper-Bergman (O'Hanisain, Tory Lund) 5:06
(A) Matthew Desiderio (Tyler Green, Austin Salani) 13:56
(A) Furuseth (Gavin Morrissey, James Goffredo) :52
Shots: Austin — 36; Minot — 32
Power plays: Austin — 2-for-5; Minot — 0-for-4