by: Ken Oda, minotauroshockey.com
The season has not started the way that either the Minot Minotauros or the Brookings Blizzard had wanted. The Blizzard dropped their first ten games of the season before winning two of their last four. The Tauros on the other hand started 2-3-1 before going 0-7-1 over the last eight. The teams will play four games over the next two weekends, and if either squad can take a majority of the points they can start to grab a hold of the Central Division’s final playoff spot.
The Minotauros struggles have come primarily on offense, as the club is averaging a league worst 1.57 goals per game. To help bolster the offense the club has acquired a trio of forwards. Troy Degler joins the Tauros from the Fargo Force, while he was held scoreless in six games for the Force, Degler does have 108 points in 91 career junior games. Jake Howie joins the Tauros from Corpus Christi. Howie also spent time with the USHL’s Waterloo Blackhawks and the NA3HL’s Flint Gernals where he had five points in four games. The Tauros also traded for a pair of players from the Minnesota Wilderness, forward Colton Kramer and defenseman Kyle Kruenegel, both of whom spent last season playing for Aberdeen. Kramer has a goal and three assists on the season, and 33 points in 95 NAHL games.
The Blizzard have not faired much better on offense as they also average less than two goals per game. They have however been ranked in the top half of the league on the power play converting on 13.9% of their chances. Nick DeCenzo and Evan Hesse lead the team in scoring with 12 and 10 points respectively. With five goals on the season Eric Brenk leads the club in goals but is a -15 through 14 games. In net Drew Weigman has split time with a trio of back-ups. Overall Brookings goaltenders have combined to allow a 4.50 GAA and .862 SV%.
Both games start 7:15 and can be seen on fasthockey.com. The teams come to Minot next weekend for a pair of games on Friday and Saturday night. Tickets for those and all Tauros games are still available and can be purchased in advance by clicking on the “tickets” tab atop this page.