Bruins will begin NAHL Central finals Friday in Riverside

Published 8:09 pm Friday, April 17, 2015

The Austin Bruins may be motivated to win the Robertson Cup this year, but they’ve got to get to the Cup before they can think about winning it. Austin’s quest to win its second straight NAHL Central Division tournament title begins this at 7:05 p.m. Friday and Saturday at Riverside Arena.

The Bruins will have a tall task as they are taking on the Minot Minotauros, who won all four regular season match ups against Austin. But what scares Austin head coach Chris Tok the most about Minot is that they remind him of his own team.

The Bruins had their season end to Bismarck two years in a row before they finally beat the Bobcats to get their first Robertson Cup last season and the Minotauros have lost to Austin in the first round of the NAHL Central playoffs the last two seasons.

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“It’s a little bit eerie as a coach that it’s the same scenario for them playing out,” Tok said. “We had to beat Bismarck to get over the hump and now they’ve got to beat us to get over the hump.”

The Minotauros specialize in limiting opponents shots on goal as they like to get out and block shots. The Bruins will have to make the most of their opportunities this weekend if they want to get out to a fast start in the series.

“They’re a hard working team and they keep the game fairly simple,” Tok said. “They’re very difficult to get pucks to the net against. A lot of this series is going to come down to will. They play the game hard.”

The Bruins have a young team, but now that the first playoff series is over for much of the roster, Tok is hoping his players have a better grasp at what to expect in an NAHL playoff series. The Bruins also had two weeks to prepare for Minot.

“We talked to the young guys and they all kind of admitted they didn’t play the way they normally do because they were a bit uptight [in the first round],” Tok said. “Both teams are what they are at this point in the season. Guys have got to understand what it takes. After we lost to Fairbanks last year [in the Robertson Cup finals] we had guys saying that’s not going to happen again and they wanted to get back there and take care of businesses.”