Bruins score a win in playoff opener over MinotPublished 10:18pm Friday, April 12, 2013
The Austin Bruins took care of business as they opened their five-game playoff series against Minot with a 3-1 win in the first round of the NAHL Central Division playoffs in Riverside Arena Friday.
The Minotauros (26-31-4 overall) tied the game at 1-1 halfway through the second period when Cameron Rowat knocked a loose puck into the back of the net, but Austin had an immediate reaction when Grant Eichstadt, who is from Hudson, Wis., scored his fifth career goal as a Bruin on a put-back with 5:46 left in the second period.
“That’s just great resiliency,” Austin head coach Chris Tok said. “Our guys were complaining that the kid kicked it in, but it doesn’t really matter. They called it a goal and it was 1-1, you’ve got to stay even keeled and steady and those guys had a great shift to go back up.”
There were just five penalties called in the game, but Minot played the physical style of hockey that the Bruins (43-11-7 overall) expected them to play. There wasn’t a lot of space to operate in front of either net and clean looks were hard to come by.
“It’s playoff hockey,” Kirley said. “Everyone’s got to be physical and you have to expect them to come in and play the body a lot. You’ve got to respond to it and I think we did a good job of that tonight.”
Kirley, a defenseman from Hayward, Wis., scored his fifth career goal in 163 games with the Bruins on an empty net when he recovered the puck from Minot and fired a shot from just inside the blue line with 25 seconds left in the game.
“Scoring goals isn’t really my forte,” Kirley said. “I was just trying to make sure they didn’t score and I happened to have the puck at the right time.”
The Minotauros fired off 24 shots, but very few of them were good looks as Austin’s defense created a wall in front goalie Nick Lehr.
“The defense played a great game and they did a great job of clearing guys out in front of me,” Lehr said. “They just kept everything simple and that’s all I need to see in front of me.”
The Bruins will host Minot in game two of the series Saturday at 7:05 p.m. in Riverside. Games three and four (if necessary) will be held in Minot next Friday and Saturday.
“They’re going to play desperate hockey but if we keep skating hard and getting to loose pucks, we’re going to make it hard on them,” Tok said. “Our objective is to win both (games in Austin).”
Minot 0 1 0 — 1
Austin 0 2 1 — 3
(A) Michael Bond (CJ Smith, Chris Fischer) 10:-06
(M) Cameron Rowat 13:49
(A) Grant Eichstadt (Drew Anderson, Travis Maxwell) 14:14
(A) Nolan Kirley 19:35
Shots: Austin — 33; Minot — 24
Powerplays: Austin — 0-for-3; Minot — 0-for-2