The Minotauros and Aberdeen Wings have combined to win the last three regular season Central Crowns and the last two Central Cups. Each of the last two springs, they have met in the Robertson Cup Playoffs and the winner of that series has gone on to represent the Central in the Robertson Cup Final Four. Each of the first two playoff meetings took place in the first round, now for the first time the teams will meet in the Central Cup Finals.
The Tauros enter the series riding a six-game winning streak dating back to the regular season. A three-game sweep of the Bobcats earned the Tauros a spot in the Central Finals for the second consecutive season. Overall the Tauros current seven year run of making the post-season is second in the NAHL behind only Fairbanks who has qualified 16 seasons in a row.
The Tauros went 4-7-1 against the Wings in the regular season, they same mark they had last season when the knocked the Wings out of the playoffs. Vince Marino, who missed last series with an injury, led the Tauros with six goals against the Wings this year. Keenan Lund (1g 7a) and Nick Strom (8a) led the Tauros overall with eight points against Aberdeen. Fritz Belisle, Didrik Henbrant, Andrew Kangas, and David Raisanen each chipped in three markers against the Wings over the 12 regular season meetings. Henbrant led the way in the first round with five points on two goals and three assists, followed by Raisanen and Kangas who had three goals and an assist each.
In goal, Nicholas Grabko stopped 84 of 90 shots in the sweep of the Bobcats. He went 3-4-0 against the Wings in the regular season with a 3.67 GAA and .900 SV%, both numbers were down from his regular season totals of 2.68 GAA and .913 SV%. Despite having slightly better numbers at a 3.65 GAA and .904 SV% Ben Garrity went 1-3-1 against the Wings this year.
Though they finished with the third best record in the regular season the Aberdeen Wings were arguably the NAHL’s best team. The Wings finished with the league’s second best offense posting 4.25 goals per game and the league’s best defense allowing just 2.07. They also had the league’s sixth best power play (22.3%) and the best penalty kill at an even 86%. Over the 60 game marathon regular season there was little that the Wings did not do well. In related news they ripped off a 19 game winning streak from November 30th through February 1st and finished the season on an eight game heater as well.
That said the Tauros handed the Wings four of their 13 losses on the regular season. Joe Strada (6g 8a) and John Sladic (5g 9a) led the Wings with 14 points each against the Tauros. Strada now has 35 career points against the Tauros including the playoffs. The Wings’ leading scored Brad Belisle had nine of his 68 points in the regular season against the Tauros.
In goal Matt Vernon went 40-9-3 and was named the NAHL Goalie of the Month for both December and January. Overall he posted a 1.94 GAA and .934 SV% on the season and 2.25 GAA and .932 SV% against the Tauros.
Watch and Listen
Both games will be on the Minotauros Network AM 1390 KRRZ and HockeyTV.com. Follow the Minotauros on Twitter for live updates. Fans coming making the trip to the Odde Ice Center should email Ken Oda at email@example.com to be added to the Tauros $8 ticket list.