The Tauros come into the weekend having swept the Austin Bruins last weekend at home. It was the Tauros first weekend sweep since November 9th and 10th, which was also over Austin. The pair of wins, combined with the previous Saturday’s win over Minnesota, hopefully marks the end of a 4-11-1 slump that saw the Tauros fall from first to fifth. The three game winning streak has already rebounded the Tauros to third in the division. Brookings meanwhile is playing their best hockey of the season going 4-1-1 over their last six they have more than doubled their point total from a 3-27-2 start. The Blizzard resurgence came at a good time from a Tauros perspective as the Blizzard earned splits with Austin and Bismarck before sweeping the Wilderness last weekend. Of course the downside to the timing of Brookings’ rebirth is that they are now the opposition for four in a row.
The biggest and most obvious difference for the Tauros last weekend was in goal as Ben Garrity returned to form earning Central Division Star of the Week Honors for stopping 66 of 68 Austin shots in the weekend sweep. During the Tauros slump Garrity and Nick Grabko combined for an .872 SV% and 3.77 GAA; on the Tauros three game winning streak Garrity has stopped 86 of 91 for a .945 SV% and 1.667 GAA.
The Tauros offense last weekend came from some new names as well as the Tauros fourth line saw each member score at least once. On the weekend Cole O’Connell, Joseph Harguindeguy, and Keven Ness combined for four goals and four assists. The Tauros have raced over Brookings for the most part this year outscoring them 32-15 on the season. David Raisanen and Lincoln Erne each have eight points in just six games against Brookings.
For the Blizzard the goal for the remainder of the season is to get ready for next year having dug themselves too big of a hold with their terrible start. Now 25 points behind the Wilderness for the final playoff spot in the Central the Wilderness, Brookings could be eliminated as early as February 8th. That said they are playing well now, and the Tauros should have learned their lesson regarding taking the Blizzard lightly already having dropped a 7-2 decision to Brookings at home November 16th.
Unfortunately for the Blizzard three of their five leading scorers in the season series are all no longer on the team. Vince Marino led the Blizzard against the Tauros but now will be meeting his former team for the first time wearing cream and cardinal. Ryan Green has found the scoring touch since being traded from the Tauros to the Blizzard in a deal earlier in the year, posting six goals and seven assists in 25 games for the Yeti; he had just six goals and six assists in 65 games as a Tauro.
Watch and Listen
Both Friday and Saturday nights’ games start at 7:05 p.m. on hockeytv.com and minotauroshockey.com/listen-live. The Farmer’s Union Pregame Show kicks off at 6:50 p.m.