With the NAHL Showcase in the rearview mirror the Tauros head into Central Division play. Unlike past seasons the Tauros will only play Central Division opponents this season outside of the Showcase. First up is the Brookings Blizzard who went 1-1-2 at the Showcase while the Tauros went 3-1-0.
The Tauros offense has been the best in the league through the early going posting 20 goals through four games for an even 5.00 average; only three other teams are averaging over four goals a game. The Tauros high offensive output has been the result of quality chances as opposed to quantity as the team is just barely in the top third of the league ranking eighth with 34.0 shots-per-game.
Reigning NAHL Central Division Star of the Week Keenan Lund tops the Tauros chart with seven points (3g 3a) in four games on the season. Lund’s linemates Taylor Lantz (3g 3a) and newly minted team Captain Fritz Belisle (2g 3a) have been equally dangerous, the trio was considered by many scouts at the Showcase to be the most effective line in the league. Aside from the Tauros’ top trio, forwards Andrew Kangas (3g 3a) and David Raisanen (1g 2a) showed they are ready to make the jump expected of veteran players. Several new faces jumped in as well as Kyle Oleksiuk had six assists and Matthew Gellerman added two goals and a helper. In total 18 of the 23 skaters that dressed for the Tauros at the Showcase found their way onto the scoresheet, showing that the Tauros have both elite scorers and scoring depth.
The Brookings offense started strong the first two days of the Showcase posting four goals in each, but followed those with a shutout before posting three on the event’s final day. The result is a 2.75 goals-per-game average which ranks 10th in the league. They have managed that 10th ranking despite being 18th in shots for averaging just 27.75 shots-per-game.
Sam Antenucci (2g 2a) and Gabe Wahl (0g 4a) lead the Blizzard with four points each. Kendrick Frost (1g 2a) and veteran defenseman Brendan Aird (0g 3a) have three points each. Aside from Antenucci, Pavel Rotenberg (2g 0a) and Dylan Schuett (2g 0a) are the only other Blizzard with multiple goals on the season.
The Tauros pair their top ranked offense with the fourth ranked defense in the league allowing just 2.25 goals-per-game. They have done so primarily on the back of strong goaltending as the Tauros allow the fourth most shots-per-game at an even 37. The Tauros’ three goaltenders; Ben Garrity, Nick Grabko, and Reid Waszczenko, have combined for a 93.9 save percentage.
The Blizzard are middle of the pack in both goals and shots allowed ranking 3.00 and 33.75 respectively. In goal McLean Dorr was a hard luck loser on Day Three of the Showcase allowing just one goal in an overtime loss. Jack Caruso picked up the Blizzard’s lone win and has posted a 93.2 save percentage. Alex Mosquera appeared in two games at the Showcase allowing four goals and getting pulled against Amarillo and taking the shootout loss on the Showcase’s final day after allowing three goals over 65 minutes.
The Tauros special teams have certainly contributed to the team’s early success with five power play goals and one shorthanded marker. The Tauros scored on half of their 10 power play opportunities and killed 14 of the 16 penalties that they took. The result is the league’s top ranked power play at 50% and fourth best kill at 87.5%.
Brookings is ranked 15th on both the power play (15.4%) and penalty kill (75%). The Blizzard scored on just two of their 13 power plays and allowed three goals on 12 kill chances. Tom Magnavite did have a shorthanded goal for Brookings.
Watch and Listen
Both games will stream with pay-per-view video on www.hockeytv.com and free audio on the “Listen Live” tab atop this page. Saturday’s game will also be on the Tauros official radio home AM 1390 KRRZ. The Farmer’s Union Pregame Show starts at 6:50 for 7:05 puck drops both nights.