By: Ken Oda, minotauroshockey.com
The Minotauros make the first trip in franchise history to The Last Frontier where they will take on the Kenai River Brown Bears and the Fairbanks Ice Dogs twice each over a 12 day trip. The Tauros arrived in Kenai last night and will start the trip with contests against the Brown Bears tonight and tomorrow. Both teams come in with three wins on the season though the Tauros have played three fewer games than the Bears.
After a slow start scoring just a single goal in each of the first two games the Tauros offense has started clicking posting 11 goals in the last three contests. The Tauros scoring has come on the leagues fewest shots on goal at just 24.2 per game. Christian Mohs leads the club with five goals and two assists on the campaign and his linemates Blake Lizotte (0g, 6a) and Johnny Walker (3g, 1a) round out the top three in scoring.
Even though the top three point men for the Tauros are all on the same line, the Tauro attack has shown balance. In the home opener the Tauros got goals from four players on three different lines. They did this while also shutting out the league’s top ranked offense. The Tauros currently allow the fourth fewest shots against per game at just 24.8 per contest, and the shots that do get through get stopped at an impressive rate. Goaltenders Atte Tolvanen (2-2-0, .918 SV%, 1.97 GAA) and Tanner Holmes (1-0-0, .917 SV%, 2.00 GAA) have given the Tauros the elite level goaltending that has come to be expected in Minot.
For the Brown Bears, goaltending had been an issue to start the season. They currently have three goalies rostered and have already parted ways with another Sean Healy whom had played three games. Zach Quinn remains from the initial duo but has struggled early with a .855 SV% and 4.23 GAA. Josh Creelman however played well in his first start a 5-1 win over the Minnesota Magicians in which Creelman made 32 of 33 saves for the Bears.
When the Bears have the puck they present a balanced attack; seven players have at least two goals for the Bears, but none have more than three. Tyler Andrews leads the club with nine points on the season with two goals and five assists. Of the Bears top five scorers from last season only Matt Rudin (3g, 4a) remains on the roster and he is tied for second with seven points on the season.
The first period may be crucial; the Brown Bears are 2-0-0 when leading after one, but 0-4-0 when trailing at the end of 20 minutes. The Tauros meanwhile have shown the ability to come back having erased multiple to goal deficits in their two wins at the showcase. Quick start will be the key for the Tauros to head to Fairbanks with four more points in their luggage.
Notes: The Tauros come in on a three game winning streak. The Brown Bears have followed each of their wins with two losses, and are coming off of a win in Minnesota. Due to scheduling quirks and there being only five teams in the Central Division the Tauros have played three fewer games the Bears so far this season. Despite the Tauros being in Alaska they are currently enjoying warmer weather than their fans in Minot with today’s projected high there being 50° compared to 43° in Minot.
Watch the Games: As always games will be shown on www.fasthockey.com. The Tauros being in Alaska means late starts as the puck will drop for both games at 7:30 p.m. local (AKT) which is 10:30 p.m. Minot (CST) time.