Deadlocked in a scoreless tie with their season hanging in the balance midway through the third period, the Minot Minotauros thought they had taken the lead when a pretty passing play culminated with a puck bouncing off a Minot skate in front of the net and going in. But as the Tauros celebrated, the officials convened and ultimately waved off the goal, saying the puck was kicked into the net.
But just 13 seconds later, Minot would score a goal that would count when Miroslav Mucha’s backhand shot from the slot beat Fairbanks goalie Josh Benson. That goal would stand up as the winner as the Minotauros won 2-0 over Fairbanks to force a decisive Game 3 on Sunday afternoon in their semifinal series at the NAHL’s Robertson Cup championships in Blaine, Minnesota.
One night after being blitzed for three goals in the first period by Fairbanks and ultimately giving up four, Minot goalie Samu Lonkila rebounded with a near-perfect performance, stopping 30 shots, including a few breakaways, to earn the shutout victory.
The two teams will meet again at 3pm on Sunday, with the winner of the third game advancing to Monday’s winner-take-all championship game.
Notes and Thoughts:
-Minot played like a desperate team tonight, matching Fairbanks from the beginning of the game. They played a great first period, spending a lot of time in the Fairbanks zone, compared to last night when they almost got run out of the building in the first period.
-That said, the difference in tonight’s game was Lonkila. You can’t blame him for any of the odd-man rush goals he gave up on Friday, but against a team like Fairbanks to pushes the pace and looks for those chances at every opportunity, those are the types of stops he has to make for Minot to have a chance.
Tonight, he did. He made a pair of back-to-back in the second period with the game tied that were sensational, stopping Caleb Hite on a breakaway and denying Daniel Haider on a 2-on-1 shot. He added another clean breakaway stop on Haider early in the third that held them in the game long enough for Minot to get the deciding goal. He also made a huge save shortly after Minot took the lead to keep them ahead. He’ll likely be the deciding factor in tomorrow’s game 3.
6:33 Miroslav Mucha from Lincoln Erne and Grant Loven 1-0 Minot
Mucha wheeled into the slot after circling high and fired a backhander that beat Benson for the goal.
GOAL!!! Miroslav Mucha snipes one over the shoulder of Josh Benson and @MinotauroHockey grabs a 1-0 lead in the 3rd period over @fbx_IceDogs in Game 2 of the #NAHL #RobertsonCup Semi-Finals. pic.twitter.com/E9DediL1SV— NAHL (@NAHLHockey) May 12, 2018
18:47 Alex Adams unassisted 2-0 Minot
Adams out-raced Fairbanks’ defense to a loose puck in the neutral zone and scored on the open net.