By: Ken Oda, minotauroshockey.com
Minot, ND – The Minotauros and Bobcats are set to renew one of the biggest rivalries in the NAHL this weekend with a home-and-home set starting tonight in Bismarck. The Tauros have won both of the season’s first two meetings by scores of 4-2 and 2-1. Last season the Tauros went 10-3-2 against their biggest rival including a three game sweep in the first round of the Robertson Cup Playoffs.
Willie Brown (8g 11a) leads the Bobcats seventh ranked offense which posts 3.19 goals per game. Against the Tauros Alex Strand (9g 9a) has two of the Bobcat’s three goals. Johnny Walker (13g 12a) continues to lead the Tauros in scoring and sits 8th overall in the league with 25 points. The Tauros offense has gone cold of late, posting just 19 goals in the last 10 games and falling to 13th in the league posting just 2.83 goals per game. The downturn in scoring however has not been due to a lack of shots with the Tauros posting 34.3 shots per game which is actually above their overall 4th ranked 32.42 s/pg.
Defensively both teams do well to limit shots on goal the Bobcats allowing just 25.57 per game and the Tauros 25.96. For the Tauros the limited shots against have helped both Lucas Murray (2.28gaa .908sv%) and Jon Flakne (2.25gaa .916sv%) get off to strong starts as they split time. Hunter Shepard (2.32gaa .910sv%) has carried the load for the Bobcats playing 18 of their 21 games. Wes Paupore has been called up from the NA3HL’s Breezy Point North Stars as Shepard’s new backup.
This weekend marks the start of a 21 game, two and a half month stretch which sees the first place Tauros take on only the bottom three teams in the Central Division; Bismarck, Aberdeen, and the Minnesota Magicians. The run does not end until the Tauros host Brookings on February 20th. A stretch of good play can put a stranglehold on the division and prove that the Tauros are the title contenders they believe themselves to be. Conversely, it is also an opportunity for the tightest division in the NAHL to show that the bottom half of the division is better than their record indicate.
Watch and Listen: Tonight’s game in Bismarck can be seen on fasthockey.com on a pay-per-view basis, or heard for free on prostyleproduction.com. Tickets for Saturday night’s game at the Maysa are still available by clicking the “Tickets” tab atop this page, the game will also be on fasthockey and prostyle.