By: Ken Oda, minotauroshockey.com
Minot, ND – Through 30 games over four months the Minotauros have held at least a share of first place for all but three weeks. Currently the Tauros and Austin Bruins are tied atop the North American Hockey League’s Central Division with 35 points apiece. The Central is perhaps the NAHL’s toughest division as last place Aberdeen is hardly the pushover that Kenai River and Amarillo are. The Bismarck Bobcats, the Central’s fifth place team is just six points behind the Tauros and Bruins.
The Bobcats will provide the opposition for the Tauros first two games of the second half with a home-and-home series that kicks off tonight at the Maysa Arena before shifting to Bismarck for a New Year’s Eve date. The Tauros lead the season series 3-2 with including winning the last meeting just 12 days ago by a 4-2 score. With a goal and six assists Harrison Aide (8g 16) leads the Bobcats against the Tauros Alex Strand (12g 10a) has four goals over the previous five meetings, the most of any player for either club. Hunter Shepard (2.25GAA .925SV%) has backstopped the Bobcats in all five games against the Tauros posting a 2.83 GAA and .902 SV%.
For the Tauros, Johnny Walker’s (15g 14a) stellar first half has seen him become the Tauros all-time leading scorer with 73 career points on 37 goals and 36 assists. Walker passed Jadin Martin who had 71 points on 27 goals and 44 assists as a Tauro. However, with a three point game against Aberdeen the day before the Christmas break Christian Mohs (7g 16a) picked up his 72nd, 73rd, and 74th, points as a Tauro to take the top spot from Walker. Jack Murphy (9g 6a), Jared Brandt (1g 12a), and Walker are all tied with a team best five points against the Bobcats. Lucas Murray (2.36GAA .906SV%) has played four of the five meetings posting and even 2.00 GAA on a .922 SV%.
Both the Tauros and the Bobcats have scored 15 goals in five games against each other. The big key for the Tauros will be to remain at even strength as seven of the Bobcats goals have come on the power play, two more have come into an empty net, leaving just six even strength goals for the Cats against the Tauros. Conversely, the Tauros have 10 goals at evens, three on the power play, and one each shorthanded and into a vacated Bismarck goal.
The home-and-home set kicks off a busy stretch for the Tauros with three games in four days ending with hosting the Aberdeen Wings at the Maysa on Saturday. There will not be much rest for the Tauros after that as they will meet Minot State’s ACHA DI top ranked Beavers on Tuesday for an exhibition game to raise funds for the Maysa Expansion Project. Tickets for all Tauros home games including the game against MSU are available by clicking the “Tickets” tab atop this page. Season tickets and Corporate Flex Tickets will not be valid for the game against MSU.