by: Ken Oda, minotauroshockey.com
Austin, MN – The Minotauros and Bruins have met in each of the last three Central Division playoffs, and each time the Bruins have ended the Minotauros season. Now the Tauros return to the Riverside Arena for the first time since seeing their season end in a thrilling winner take all game five of last spring’s Central Division Final. While a pair of wins on the weekend will not give the Tauros the 2015 Central Division crown they missed out on last season, a sweep would help the Tauros begin to pull away from the pack early in the season. The Tauros currently sit four points ahead both Austin and Aberdeen for the division lead; a sweep would put them eight points ahead of the Bruins and at least six points ahead of Aberdeen.
The Tauros and Bruins come in boasting two of the NAHL’s most explosive offenses. Austin ranks third with 3.80 goals per game and the Tauros are fourth at 3.78. Johnny Walker (7g 8a) leads the Tauros with 15 points on the season, a total that puts him fourth overall in the league and the only player in the top five who does not play for Fairbanks. Christian Mohs (3g 6a) and Chase Springman (4g 5a) are tied for second on the club with nine points each. Jade Miller (7g 3a) and Gilbert Gabor (3g 7a) sit atop the Bruins scoring chart with 10 points each early in the season.
While the teams have posted similar offensive outputs the Tauros have been better at keeping the puck out of their own net. The Tauros have the seventh ranked defense allowing just 2.22 goals per game while the Bruins rank ten spots lower allowing 3.10 goals per game. Jon Flakne (3-0-1, 1.96 gaa, .910 sv%) and Lucas Murray (3-1-1, 1.98 gaa, .914 sv%) have split time in net for the Tauros posting equally strong numbers. Kristofer Carlson (3-2-0, 2.77 gaa, .905 sv%) has been the goalie of record in five of the Bruins last seven games and posted the best numbers of Austin’s netminding trio.
This weekend is the first of two consecutive weekends in Minnesota against the two Robertson Cup finalists from last season for the Tauros. After facing the Bruins this weekend the Tauros will return to the Land of 10,000 Lakes to face the defending champion Minnesota Wilderness next weekend. The Tauros will finally return home for their second home stand of the season October 30th and 31st when the host a rematch with the Bruins.
Follow, Watch, and Listen: Every Tauros game can be watched pay-per-view online at fasthockey.com or listened to for free at prostyleproduction.com. For live updates throughout the game and to interact with Ken Oda on the broadcast follow us on Twitter, and all game results will also be posted on our Facebook page.