By: Ken Oda, minotauroshockey.com
Minot, ND – Friday night the Minotauros return to the Maysa Arena for the first time since a first round sweep of the Bismarck Bobcats. Now for the third spring in a row the Tauros return from Austin, MN having stolen home ice advantage from the Bruins thanks to Game 1’s 3-2 victory at the Riverside Arena. Now the Tauros will look to keep the best season in franchise history rolling by taking advantage of home ice in Games 3 and 4 this weekend.
The Tauros offense came from James Mathias and John Snodgrass who each posted two goals each last weekend in Austin. The newest Tauro, Nate Pionk contributed a pair of assists setting up two goals as well as several other chances as well. Pionk joined the Tauros after the end of the Minnesota high school season and as he has gotten comfortable has become a big contributor to the offense with three assists and 14 shots on goal in the post season.
Meanwhile for Austin, each of their six goals in the series has come from a different scorer. In total only four Bruins have yet to post at least a point in the post season after their high scoring opening round series against the Aberdeen Wings. Trevor Boyd leads the Bruins with a goal and five assists, and Nico Sturm has four goals (all against Aberdeen) to lead them in scoring in the playoffs.
Central Division MVP and Goaltender of the Year Atte Tolvanen has played every minute of the playoffs for the Tauros in goal posting a 1.80 goals against average and .924 save percentage for a 4-1 record. For Austin Jake Kielly and Evan Smith have split time. Kielly is 2-1 with a 2.01 GAA and .912 sv% while Smith is 2-0 with a 3.00 GAA and .885 sv%. Smith’s numbers however a skewed by a bad showing against Aberdeen, he stopped 26 of 27 shots in Game 2 in Austin after posting a .923 sv% in 15 regular season games.
For the Tauros to close out the series at home they will have to flip the special teams battle. The Bruins gave the Tauros nine power play opportunities in Austin and the Tauros failed to cash in on any of them. Conversely the Bruins power play went a combined 2-6 in the first two games in which the Bruins outscored the Tauros by two goals.
Tickets for both Game 3 and Game 4 in the best of Five Central Division Final are still available by clicking here or on the “Tickets” tab atop this page. Fans are welcome to arrive early as tailgating begins in the Maysa parking lot at 5:00 p.m. on both nights. Complete sets of Buffalo Wild Wings Tauros cards as well as Pepsi Tauros vehicle stickers will be available for free at the Tauros merchandise store on a first come first served basis.