By: Ken Oda, minotauroshockey.com
Minot, ND – The Minotauros host the defending NAHL champion Fairbanks Ice Dogs, for the first time in franchise history. The match up pits the Midwest Division leading Ice Dogs, against the Central Division’s second place Tauros. The Tauros split with Fairbanks during their trip to Alaska in October, and look to build off that this weekend.
The Ice Dogs come to Minot boasting the second best offense in the league posting an even 4.0 goals per game. Chandler Madry (19g 47a) is second in the league with Ethan Somoza (26g 34a) and Jacob Hetz (24g 33a) also appearing in the top five. Hans Gorowsky (21g 27a) and Jesper Ohrvall (20g 7a) are both dangerous as well with over 20 goals on the season. In net Patrick Munson (23-6-2, 2.37gaa, .911sv%) has carried the load playing in 32 of the Ice Dogs 52 games.
The Tauros come in having broken the slump that had them down for most of February. Injuries and illness had contributed to the Tauros struggles leaving the Tauros unable to dress a full line-up for several weeks. Over the last five games the Tauros have missed nine man games due to injury or illness. Atte Tolvanen (23-11-5, 2.00gaa, .919sv%) has been strong as always for the Tauros with a .961 sv% and .83 gaa over his last four games. On offense Jake Howie (13g 11a) has lead the way with three goals in the last five games. John Snodgrass (12g 13a) and Nick Monfils (12g 13a) each have two goals and two assists in that time. Minot High School alum Quinn Fuchs (3g 7a) has played some of his best hockey as a Tauro with a goal and three helpers in the last five. Fuchs strong play of late may get stronger has he will be reunited with his Minot High linemate Matt Flom, who is joining the Tauros after leading the North Dakota state champion Minot High Magicians in scoring with 28 goals and 18 assists in 27 games played. Last season Fuchs and Flom combined for 119 points in 27 games for the Magi.
The weekend set could serve as a playoff preview with both teams looking to have deep playoff runs. The Ice Dogs have the benefit of experience winning the Robertson Cup last season over the Austin Bruins. The Tauros have never been out of the first round but are having the best season in franchise history already with a record 31 wins. The Tauros could not meet the Ice Dogs until at least the third round, at which point the series are best of three games all at the higher seed's rink. This weekend's games will go a long way towards determining who would host should these two teams meet again.
Friday night will see the Minotauros honor the Minot High Magicians who won the North Dakota High School State Championship last weekend. Captain Garrett Picard will drop the puck before the game and then during the first intermission the team will be honored with a ceremony which will include the unveiling of their championship banner. Tickets for Friday and Saturday night’s games are available by clicking the “Tickets” tab atop this page.