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Bullish

By: Ken Oda, minotauroshockey.com

Blaine, MN – The Minotauros and Lone Star Brahmas promised to be one of the marquee match-ups of the 2016 NAHL Showcase, and the two clubs didn’t disappoint.  The Tauros finished last season with the 6th best record in the NAHL and the Brahmas the 3rd.   The two teams met in a packed arena on Sheet 4 of the Schwann Super Rink and put on a fantastic show for fans and scouts alike.

The first two periods passed without a goal but as momentum switched back and forth between the teams the stellar play in the Tauros net by Eric Dop became the early story.  Coming off of the previous games season opening shutout by Lucas Murray it started to feel as if the 2016/17 Tauros would never give up a goal.  However despite hitting two posts the Tauros could not solve Brahmas’ goaltender Austin Smith either and despite 40 minutes of hockey the teams entered the third period in a scoreless tie.

However with just 6 seconds remaining in the second Justin Addamo was whistled for roughing on a post-whistle scrum in the Tauros’ crease and that penalty carried over to the start of the third.  The Tauros finally broke through when Alex Adams redirected Jake Dittel’s shot from the point past Smith to open the scoring at 1:05 of the third.  Lone Star pushed back turning the momentum back in their favor with physical play and eventually Grayson Gavin was called for roughing after retaliating after a scrum along the wall got out of hand.  Austin O’Rouke scored on the ensuing power play, ending the Tauros season opening shutout streak at 112:54 and knotting the game up at 1-1.

The rest of the third period passed just as the first two periods; without a goal, and the teams went to overtime.  The teams traded chances playing three-on-three and with just under 2 minutes left in the extra session Nolan Sawchuk found Jack Murphy with space at the Lone Star blue line.  Murphy’s shot was stopped but Smith left a rebound and Gavin, fresh off the bench from a change hammered it home to give the Tauros the win.

Next up for the Tauros is Day 3 of the 14th Annual NAHL Showcase and a 2:15 p.m. start against the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Knights.  The Knights are 2-4-0 on the season including a 1-1-0 record at the Showcase.  After a hard fought battle with Lone Star and playing three games in as many days the Tauros have reached the portion of the Showcase in which fatigue may become a factor.  However the Knights played last weekend and then traveled to the Showcase from Pennsylvania and should be just as fatigued as the Tauros.

Here… We… Go…

Blaine, MN – With the preseason in the rearview mirror the Minotauros are ready to open season number six at the NAHL Showcase in Blaine, MN.  The season kick-off event presents a challenge for every team with four games in as many days against tougher competition than most of the rookies have ever faced.  For the Tauros the four-day gauntlet opens with an unknown in the Kenai River Brown Bears.

At first glance the Brown Bears , who finished 17 points behind Amarillo for the worst record in the NAHL last season, would appear an easy start for the Tauros who had the sixth best record in last year’s regular season.  However the Bears bring back just seven players from last year’s roster making them more of an unknown.  One new name for the Bears that may be familiar to Tauro fans is Jake Tomkowiak, who played for the Bismarck Bobcats during the 2014/15 season.  Other than that the Brown Bears split a preseason set with the Austin Bruins winning 3-2 in the first game then falling 3-2 in a shootout two nights later.

The Tauros meanwhile boast a veteran roster that has had a lot of success.  Newly minted Captain Jake Dittel goes into his third season as a Tauro as does Chase Springman, Luke Davison, and Nate PionkDerek Frentz goes into his third NAHL season and second as Tauros, while Alex Adams, Zack Bross, Jack Murphy, Grayson Gavin, Tyler Jeanson, Colton Berg, and Lucas Murray all go into their second year for Minot.  The veteran roster should take some pressure off of an impressive group of newcomers.

Last season the Tauros had their best Showcase performance ever going 3-1-0 and then rolling off six more wins after the Showcase for a 9 game winning streak.  Every journey starts with a single step, for the 2016/17 Tauros the time is now.

Watch and Listen: Once again Ken Oda will be on the call for all 60 regular season Tauro games will be webcast at www.fasthockey.com with pay-per-view video.  A free audio stream with a “Koda Cam” will be available at http://www.prostyleproduction.com/listen-live.html, and AM 1390 KRRZ will carry several of the Tauros  over the air in Minot including all four games from this week’s NAHL Showcase.  The Planet Pizza Pregame Show will start at 3:45 on all three of the Tauros Network outlets for the season opener against the Brown Bears.   For live updates be sure to follow us on twitter @minotaurohockey.

6th “C”

By: Ken Oda

Minot, ND – The Minotauros have named defenseman Jake Dittel as the sixth captain in franchise history.  Dittel follows Jarred Brandt, Jon Lizotte, Tim Donohue, Derek Tylka, and Ben Hughes as players to wear the “C” on their jersey.  The Tauros again will go with a rotating group of assistant captains with Zach Bross, Derek Frentz, Tyler Jeanson, and Chase Springman all getting an “A” on their jerseys.

Like last season’s captain Brandt, Dittel is in his third and final season with the Tauros.  He becomes the third consecutive defenseman to wear the “C” for the Tauros.  Tauros Head Coach and General Manager Marty Murray explained his choice of Dittel saying; “he’s been here for three years he’s a very competitive guy, he brings his work boots every day, he’s all about what the Minotauros are.”

Dittel, who has posted 8 goals and 29 assists in his first two seasons in Minot alo_09A1531ng with a +26 rating, was honored to be selected, “it’s a huge opportunity following Jon Lizotte and Jared Brandt as captain, but all of the veterans will have a leadership role.”  He also said he has learned how to be a captain from watching Lizotte and Brandt, “they showed the key is to be the best leader you can be off the ice and then give everything for 60 minutes on ice.”

As for the assistant captain group Murray said; “they’re all capable of being leaders on the team and bring a lot to the table as far as our team success so, happy to give them all responsibility and we expect them to lead the way both on and off the ice.”   Like Dittel, Springman is going into his third and final season as a Tauro; Bross, Frentz, and Jeanson are all in their second seasons in Minot.

The Tauros begin their sixth season Wednesday afternoon at the NAHL Showcase in Blaine, MN, where the Tauros take on the Kenai River Brown Bears.  The puck drops at 4:00 p.m. with the pregame show starting at 3:45 on all three outlets of the Minotauros Network (1390 AM KRRZ, fasthockey.com, and prostyleproduction.com).

Show of Force

By, Ken Oda – minotauroshockey.com

Minot, ND – The Minot Minotauros will play a pair of exhibition scrimmages against the Fargo Force on September 16th and 17th.  The scrimmage on September 16th will be in Fargo, then the teams will come to Minot on September 17th.  Both scrimmages will be played with two, 50 minute run-time halves.  The rest of the Tauros pre-season schedule will be released soon, the regular season schedule can be seen here.

The exhibition against Fargo marks the return of Blake Lizotte to the Magic City.  Lizotte posted 14 goals and 38 assists for the Tauros during the 2014-15 season, then moved on to Fargo where he posted 12 goals and 34 assists last year.

The scrimmage in Minot will only be open to Minotauros Season Ticket holders.  There will be a season ticket flash sale soon stay tuned to our Facebook and Twitter for a chance to get a special discount on Season Tickets.  Season Ticket Holders save 23.5% on individual game tickets, and get other special perks throughout the season.  For Season Ticket Info click here, or on the “Tickets” tab atop this page. 

Dance Card Full

Minot, ND – The North American Hockey League (NAHL) has announced the 2016-2017 schedule, it will be the Minotauros’ sixth season in the NAHL.  The Tauros will open the season at the 14th annual NAHL Showcase in Blaine, MN, September 21st through the 24th.  The Tauros opponents at the NAHL Showcase will be announced by the league at a later date.

After the NAHL Showcase the Tauros will return to Minot for their home opening weekend against the Aberdeen Wings on September 31st and October 1st, both games will start at 7:35 p.m.  Bismarck makes their first appearance at the Maysa Arena the following weekend on October 8th. 

The newest addition to the Central Division, the Minnesota Wilderness make their first appearance of the season at the Maysa Arena on Veterans’ Day.  The Tauros have struggled against the Wilderness going 2-8-2 against them since the Wilderness joined the NAHL three seasons ago.

The Tauros will face the rival Austin Bruins October 28th and 29th in Austin, it will be the first meeting for the two clubs since the Bruins knocked the Tauros out of the playoffs last spring.  The Bruins will not make their first trip to the Magic City until the final weekend of February.

The Tauros’ tradition of a home heavy schedule in the month of March will change this year with just three home games in the final full month of the regular season.  The Tauros will host Brookings on the 10th and 11th, and then Austin will make their second trip to Minot on 31st.  That Austin series will carry over to April 1st.  The Tauros will then close the regular season the following weekend hosting the Minnesota Wilderness on April 7th and 8th. 

Aside from the NAHL Showcase event the Tauros have five other weekday games.  All five of those games land on Thursday nights and four of them set up difficult three game in three night stretches.  All four three game in three night stretches will also require travel.  Roster depth will be key to surviving these stretches in what will most likely once again be the NAHL’s toughest division.

The addition of the Wilderness, who followed the 2015 Robertson Cup title with a Midwest Division Finals appearance, in place of the Minnesota Magicians who failed to qualify for the post-season this year is just one upgrade that will make the division difficult.  The architect of the Topeka Roadrunners’ success Scott Langer replaces Francis Anzalone in Aberdeen.  Dan Diakawa, the head coach of the Brookings Blizzard is just three seasons removed from taking the Jamestown Ironmen to the Roberston Cup round robin in 2013.  All of that does not even begin to touch on the Tauros biggest rivals the Bismarck Bobcats and Austin Bruins, one of whom has won the Central Division every year since the Tauros first season in 2011-12.

Of course the Tauros have established themselves as a division power as well holding a share of first place for most of last season and finishing second each of the last two seasons.  No team has a better record in the Central over the last two years than the Tauros at 72-36-12.  The goal for the 2016-17 Tauros will be turning that regular season success into a Central Cup and a chance at the Robertson Cup Tournament.

Click the link below to download and print a free schedule poster.  For 2016-2017 season ticket information click here. Season ticket holders save 23% on individual game ticket prices and get several other perks as well including getting to select their seat in the new Maysa Arena before it opens!

Click here to download and print a free 2016-2017 Minotauros Schedule Poster!

Tauros Draft Nine

By: Ken Oda, minotauroshockey.com

Minot, ND – The Minot Minotauros bolstered their roster today adding nine players through the NAHL Draft.  As the result of last season’s 35-19-6  record being the sixth best in the league the Tauros drafted 19th overall.  Trades over the last two seasons combined to have the Tauros picking five players in the first three rounds, before sitting the fourth and fifth rounds out, and then selecting one player in each of the sixth through ninth rounds. 

The NAHL Draft is slightly different than drafts sports fans may be more familiar with such as the NHL or NFL drafts in that teams draft until their protected list is full meaning there is no set number of rounds. This season the Tauros protected 21 players between veterans from last season and prospects whom have already signed tenders leaving nine spots for the Tauros to fill. 

A strong draft was a key to last season’s success with Cam McClue (1st round) , James LaDouce (2nd round), Grayson Gavin (6th round), and Zack Bross (7th round) all becoming big contributors in the first season as Tauros.  The year before that saw the Tauros grab Luke Davison (5th round), Quinn Fuchs (9th round), and Jake Dittel (13th round).  John Snodgrass (6th round) also was selected in the draft two summers ago and was a big contributor in his lone season as a Tauro. 

As usual the Tauros hockey operations staff lead by Head Coach and General Manager Marty Murray took a balanced approach in the draft selecting three players with junior experience, five Minnesota High School standouts, and one player from the elite midget ranks.  Murray was pleased with how this year’s draft played out “hopefully you always have a good feeling coming out of the draft, but this year we certainly do.  The staff did a great job finding talent, it was one of those years you wish you had more picks.” 

Of course the Tauros strong returning roster and tender class are the reason the Tauros had just nine picks this year and that freed up the coaching staff a bit said Murray, “we feel good about our roster, we have some guys who we’re not sure if they’re going to be in the USHL or not, but we picked guys who we think are ready to step in and play day one.”

Here is the full list of nine players the Tauros drafted today:

1st round, 19th overall

Reid Stefanson

2/19/1997

Winnipeg South Blues (MJHL)

Winnipeg, Man, Can

5’10” 170lbs

Left Wing

56gp 18g 31a 49p 40pim

 

2nd round, 43rd overall

Nolan Sawchuk

9/24/1997

Burnsville High School (MNHS)

Burnsville, MN

5’11” 170lbs

Defenseman

25gp 4g 22a 26p 22pim

 

3rd round, 59th overall

Austin Dollimer

11/2/1997

Rosemount High School (MNHS)

Rosemount, MN

6’0” 180lbs

Forward

25gp 14g 14a 28p 16pim

 

3rd round, 63rd overall

Max Johnson

5/11/1998

Lakeville North H.S. (MNHS)

Lakeville, MN

5’10” 189lbs

Center

25gp 27g 19a 46p 14pim

 

3rd round, 67th overall

Josiah Slavin

12/30/1998

Colorado Thunderbirds 18U

Erie, CO

6’1” 165lbs

Forward

32gp 13g 10a 23p 24pim

 

6th round, 139th overall

Justin Howell

4/25/1997

Des Moines Buccaneers (USHL)

St. Paul, MN

5’10” 196lbs

Center

55gp 13g 11a 24p 58pim

 

7th round, 163rd overall

Robbie McClellan

8/23/1996

Estevan Bruins (SJHL)

Palos Verdes, CA

5’10” 154lbs

Defense

58gp 3g 11a 14p 8pim

 

8th round, 187th overall

Charlie Weiand

9/4/1997

Rosemount High School (MNHS)

Rosemount, MN

6’0” 180 lbs

Defense

25gp 4g 12a 16pts 18pim

 

9th round, 211th overall

Tyler Jette

5/7/1998

Farmington High School (MNHS)

Farmington, MN

6’4” 191lbs

Defense

22gp 5g 17a 22p 34pims

 

Reisinger Commits to RPI

By: Ken Oda, minotauroshockey.com

Minot, ND – The Minot Minotauros are proud to announce the forward Max Reisinger has committed to NCAA Division I Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) for next season.  Reisinger was acquired via trade from Wichita Falls midway through the season and found immediate success posting 24 points in 26 games in crème and cardinal. 

Overall on the season Reisinger posted 41 points (15g 26a) giving him a career total of 39 goals and 48 assists for 87 points over three seasons in the North American Hockey League.  Tauros Head Coach and General Manager Marty Murray praised Reisinger, “Max work ethic was evident when he came to Minot.  He’s got a professional mentality as far as work ethic and his every day determination got him this opportunity.”

Reisinger becomes the ninth current or former Minotauro to make an NCAA Division I commitment this season.  Stay tuned to www.minotauroshockey.com for all Tauros news over the course of the summer.

Central Success

By: Ken Oda, minotauroshockey.com

Minot, ND – The Minot Minotauros are proud to announce that Head Coach and General Manager Marty Murray has been named the Central Division General Manager of the Year and defenseman James LaDouce was named Central Division Defenseman of the Year as well as a member of the All-Central Division Team. 

LaDouce posted 10 goals, 25 assists, and a +13 rating in his first season with the Minotauros.  His 35 points on the season are the most by a Tauros defenseman in a single season topping Jon Lizotte’s 34 points in the 2014-15 campaign.  Murray praised LaDouce saying “James was a very solid contributor in all aspects this past season.  He came in from the USHL and had a great attitude right from day 1.  We put James in a role that perhaps he hadn't seen before, and he ran with it.  It was enjoyable to see him thrive in all areas and become to top end defenseman in not only our division, but the entire league.”  LaDouce’s strong play earned him an NCAA DI commitment to the University of Alaska-Fairbanks.

For Murray this is the second season in a row in which he has been honored, last season he was the Central Division Coach of the Year.  Over his four full seasons behind the bench Murray has guided the Tauros to a 122-99-19 record for a .548 point percentage.  Brad Porter who speaks for the Minotauros ownership group believed the honor was well deserved; “the continued success of the Minotauros organization is testimony of the great work Marty and his group do day in and day out to develop and ensure that all our players have the best experience and opportunities possible. He instills the hockey culture with a sense of respectability that every program needs to have and he is truly deserving of this recognition.”

The NAHL will be announcing the League-Wide awards tomorrow afternoon. Stay tuned to minotauroshockey.com for Tauros news throughout the off-season. 

Great First Impressions

By: Ken Oda, minotauroshockey.com

Minot, ND – The Minot Minotauros are proud to announce that forward Matt Jennings and defenseman Sam Fuss have been named to the NAHL Central Division All-Rookie Team.  This is the second season in a row that the Tauros have two players on the Central Division All-Rookie Team following Blake Lizotte and Casey Johnson last season.  To be eligible for the All-Rookie Team players must be playing their first season of junior hockey at any level.

Fuss posted 3 goals, 15 assists and a +17 rating while appearing in 54 games for the Tauros this season.  Jennings, who was acquired via trade from Topeka on January 25th, posted 7 goals, 8 assists, and a +7 rating in 15 games for the Tauros.  In total on the season Jennings had 15 goals and 25 assists in 44 games between Minot and Topeka. 

Minotauros Head Coach Marty Murray praised both players:

        “We are very proud to have both Sam and Matt selected to the Central Divisions all rookie team.  Both players played important roles in         our success this season, and were enjoyable to watch develop as the season progressed.

        Sam, is a player you love to have on your team.  Although he's a little undersized, his compete level is off the charts.  Sam continually         blocked shots all season long, and quickly became a "go-to" guy on the PK because of it.  Sam also has very good hockey instincts, and         is smart with the puck and body position.  Besides that, he's loved by his teammates and earned their respect very early in the season.

        Matt joined us in the second half of the season, and became a major contributor right away.  His vision and hockey sense make those         around him better and it's no surprise that Dartmouth committed him to their program. 

        Both of these players have bright futures ahead of them.”

Fuss and Jennings are among 16 Minotauros eligible to return to Minot next season.  The NAHL will be announcing Divisional Awards on Wednesday and league-wide awards on Thursday.  Stay tuned to minotauroshockey.com for Tauros news throughout the off-season. 

Over and Out

By: Ken Oda, minotauroshockey.com

Austin, MN – The Minotauros were eliminated from the playoffs after Austin won Game 3 and Game 4 at the Riverside Arena this weekend.  The pair of losses marks the fourth consecutive season the Bruins eliminated the Tauros from the postseason.

On Friday night (box score) Nate Pionk (1g 0a) opened the scoring at 10:15 of the first period.  For Pionk it was his sixth career playoff point as a Tauro moving him into a tie with Jon Lizotte (2013-15, St. Cloud State) for third all-time in Tauros playoff scoring.  Gilber Gabor (2g 4a) drew the Bruins even on a rebound off the rush late in the period however to send the teams to the locker room tied at one.  Chase Springman (1g 1a) restored the Tauros lead early in the second but Austin Rueschhoff (2g 0a) answered and Gabor got his second of the game to give the Bruins a 3-2 lead headed into the third.  Jade Miller (3g 6a) finished a tap-in on the power play early in the third to push it to 4-2.  James LaDouce (1g 0a) added a power play goal for the Tauros to cut it to 4-3, but a pair of empty net goals pushed the final to 6-3.

Austin struck first in Game 4 on Saturday night (box score) Jacob Paganelli (2g 4a) scored at 10:09 of the opening frame but Tauro Captain Jared Brandt (1g 0a) scored a power play goal late in the first to have the game tied after one for the third time in the series.  Miller and Paul O’Connor (2g 0a) pushed the Bruins out to a 3-1 lead early in the second.  Tauros’ all-time leading scorer Christian Mohs (2g 0a) redirected a Colton Berg (0g 1a) shot from the point in the final minute of the game but the Tauros couldn’t find the equalizer and lost the best of five series three games to one.

While this was unquestionably a disappointing finish to an otherwise good season there is much reason for optimism heading into the offseason.  The Tauros have 16 players eligible to return next season including six of the team’s top ten scorers.  Four defensemen, Jake Dittel, Sam Fuss, Berg, and Luke Davison, are eligible to return which will give the Tauros are strong veteran base on the blue line as well.  Lucas Murray who went 17-11-2 on the season has one season of eligibility remaining as well giving the Tauros veterans at every position heading into the offseason.  For all offseason new stay tuned to minotauroshockey.com and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.