By: Ken Oda, minotauroshockey.com
Minot, ND – The Minotauros and Bobcats will meet for the fifth time in four weeks at the Maysa Arena on Friday night. The Tauros come in 3-1-1 on the season overall against the Capital Kitties with all three wins coming in Bismarck. Already an explosive rivalry for three seasons this year has already reached a new level with the teams earning over a third of their penalty minutes in games against each other despite those games counting for only a sixth of their schedule. Combined the teams have been whistled for 316 penalty minutes in 305 minutes of hockey.
That is not to say that the rivalry is limited to old school eye for an eye hockey. The rivalry averages eight goals per game and has had several highlights make the NAHL plays of the week. Christian Mohs (2g 7a) leads all scorers in the series with nine points. Chase Springman’s four goals rank tops among scorers in the series as does his +6 rating. The NAHL’s fifth leading scorer Blake Lizotte has had success against the Bobcats as well with two goals and six assists. For the Bobcats co-Captains Cullen Willox (1g 5a) and Evan Giesler (3g 1a) have lead the way on offense against Tauros.
Playing goaltender has been a difficult proposition in this series on the season with only Tanner Holmes (.922 SV%)posting a SV% over the .900 mark thanks to a 27 save shutout win in Bismarck . Tauros starter Atte Tolvanen has the next best numbers in the series at 2-0-1 and .871 SV%. Meanwhile like Tolvanen Bismarck starter Alex Bitsakis has been out-played by his backup Hunter Shepard. Bitsakis is 0-2-0 against the Tauros with a 6.65 GAA and .828 SV% compared to Shepard’s 2-1-0, 3.67 GAA, and .865 SV%.
Staying out of the penalty box will be a key for the Tauros as they have carried the play at evens. Not a single Bismarck skater has a positive +/- rating due to the Tauros holding a 16-10 even strength scoring edge as well as a 2-1 edge in shorthanded goals. The Bobcats however have converted on 31.6% of their power plays against the Tauros.
Tickets for tonight’s game are still available by clicking the “Tickets” tab atop this page. It is also the Tauros “Teddy Bear Toss Night” with every teddy bear donated to the Minot Police Department and the Domestic Crisis Center. Fans are asked to bring a new or gently used stuffed animal to toss on the ice after the Minotauros first goal of the night. The first 250 fans get Minotauros hockey cards thanks to Buffalo Wild Wings also Jon Lizotte will be available after the game to sign his card.