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Battle of North Dakota

By: Ken Oda, minotauroshockey.com

The Minotauros and Bobcats will renew their rivalry this weekend as the Tauros head to Bismarck on Friday night followed by the Bobcats making the trip up 83 for the first time this season on Saturday.  The Tauros took the first meeting of the season with a 6-4 win in a back and forth affair on October 30th at the VFW in Bismarck.  In the end Atte Tolvanen’s 20 third period saves made the difference and the Tauros held on for the win.

The Tauros have been a feast or famine offense this season with six games of one goal or less but eight games of at least four goals.  Blake Lizotte (7g, 15a) has lead the way for the Tauros, his 22 points in 21 games is tied for 10th in the NAHL.  John Snodgrass had two goals in the Tauros victory in Bismarck including the game winner.  Jon Lizotte’s 17 points put him fifth among NAHL defenders, his five goals are third.  Like Snodgrass for the Tauros Jared Spooner had two goals in the teams’ October meeting.  Cullen Willox (8g, 12a) leads the team with 20 points in as many games including an assist against the Tauros. 

In net both teams have primarily relied on the strength of their starter with good reason.  Tolvanen has posted a 9-7-1 record with a .919 SV% and 2.16 GAA, while Alex Bitsakis has gone 8-4-2 with a .930 SV% and 1.99 GAA.  The Tauros however have managed at least a point in each of Tanner Holmes starts while Hunter Shepard has gone 1-7-0 for the Bobcats.  Both teams have been good about limiting shots against with the Tauros sitting third in the NAHL at 25.86 shots against per game while the Bobcats 28.52 shots against is good for tenth.

Statistics however seem to rarely matter when these two teams faceoff.  Heading into the last meeting it appeared the game would be a defensive struggle yet the teams combined for 10 goals.  Emotion always seems to come into play in this series with drastic swings often altering the outcome of games.  The Tauros threw the first punch of the year in October, there are still 11 rounds left before the April.

Jersey Auction: Saturday night will mark the final time the Tauros will wear the Hunting Jerseys.  The game worn sweaters will be autographed and auctioned off after the game.  For those unable to attend there is an online bidding process (click here to bid) that will close at noon CST on Saturday.

Follow the Games: Friday night’s game in Bismarck will be on 1390 KRRZ in Minot and streamed live on fasthockey.com.  For those making the trip to Bismarck you can get your tickets by clicking here.  Tickets for Saturday night in Minot are still available by clicking on the ticket’s tab atop this page.