By: Ken Oda, minotauroshockey.com
The Minotauros came into the week with a chance to strengthen their grip on fourth place in the Central Division; and despite Tuesday night’s disappointing home loss to Brookings still have a chance to do so. This weekend the Tauros head to Brookings for a rematch with the fifth place Blizzard, and a Tauros sweep would push the Tauros 12 points ahead in the race for the division’s final playoff spot. With the Tauros having 16 games and the Blizzard just 15 remaining on the schedule after this weekend a 12 point lead would be almost insurmountable.
The Blizzard won on Tuesday thanks in large part to the play of Connor Girard. In 15 games since joining the Blizzard he has gone 6-7-1 with two shutouts. His six wins account for half of the team’s total through 43 games on the season. Brooking’s top two scorers Even Hesse and Conor Anderle are also their top performers against the Tauros, each with four points in six games against the Minot.
The Tauros will still be without the injured Cam Rowat, who with seven goals is third on the team and leads all Tauros scorers with four points against the Blizzard. Aside from Rowat, Jake Howie and Troy Degeler lead the Tauros against the Blizzard, and though held off of the score sheet last Tuesday both created several chances in the game against Brookings. Jake McCann, has one of his team leading 10 goals against the Blizzard. In net Brandon Wildung (.930) and Merrick Madsen (.929) have posted almost identical save percentages against Brookings in three appearances each.
This weekend will gives the Tauros an excellent opportunity to stake their claim on the final Central Division playoff spot. It is too early in the season to consider games “must win,” especially with the final four games of the season being between these two clubs, but Tauros wins on Friday and Saturday night would go a long way towards making that final weekend less stressful for the Minot faithful.