Friday: Tauros vs. Blizzard 7:35 p.m. sponsored by Pearson Chiropractic
Saturday: Tauros vs. Blizzard 8:05 p.m. sponsored by Redfox Staffing
Minot, ND – Due to a combination of scheduling and weather, the Minot Minotauros will be the last NAHL team to play a home game this season. After last weekend’s blizzard kept the Aberdeen Wings from making it to Minot, the Tauros finally return to the Pepsi Rink at Maysa Arena this Friday and Saturday nights to host the St. Cloud Blizzard. The teams sit just four points apart in the standings with the Tauros in third and the Blizzard in last in the Central Division.
The Tauros should have plenty of energy and hunger given they have had two weeks to stew over a being swept in Cloquet. The Tauros offense has been off to a strong start scoring 3.50 goals per game good for seventh in the NAHL. Nik Armstrong-Kingkade leads the team in goals (5), and points (9). Ville Immonen and Cole O’Connell have each added four goals and Sam Skinner, Owen Baumgartner and Jay Buchholz have chipped in six assists each. Skinner also has two goals to sit second on the team with eight points.
Defensively the Tauros sit in the top half of the NAHL allowing 29.75 shots per game ranking 12th. Ben Garrity has been strong as expected in his second season. The sophomore goaltender has posted a 2.38 GAA and .915 SV% over his five starts going 4-0-1. Sam Evola played well in his first start, an overtime win, but struggled to follow that up allowing 11 goals on 57 shots in his next two starts leading to his eventual release. Into his absence steps A.J. Ruskowski, from the NA3HL Bozeman Ice Dogs. Ruskowski, followed a strong rookie campaign in which his posted a .923 SV% while facing over 36 shots a game, with a NA3HL best .959 SV% through four games this season. Overall the Tauros rank 17th in the NAHL allowing 3.25 goals per game.
The Blizzard also saw snow in southern North Dakota force an opponent not to arrive as the Bismarck Bobcats being snowed in forced them to reschedule last Saturday’s contest that was slated for St. Cloud. The Blizzard did win a wild contest on Friday however as they topped the Minnesota Wilderness, the Blizzard led 5-1 after the first and held on for a 6-5 final. As that score would indicate offense has not been an issue for the Blizzard; through nine games the Blizzard average 3.11 goals per game. Former Tauro Ryan Green is tied for the team lead with seven points, and leads the club with four goals. Jack Suchy also has seven points with five of which came against the Wilderness last Friday night. Bud Winter paces the Blizzard with six assists.
In goal the Blizzard face an even larger disparity between shots allowed and goals allowed. The Blizzard sit just behind the Tauros ranked 13th allowing an even 28 shots against per game, but they allow a 21st ranked 3.60 goals per game. The duo of Britt League and Travis Allen have combined for an .879 SV% over nine games for the Blizzard. League has been the better of the two with a .890 SV% but was in net for all seven goals the Tauros scored in St. Cloud on September 27th. Allen fared better the next night allowing just four goals to the Tauros; still the Tauros swept the weekend.
The return to the Maysa and the long layoff between games should see the Tauros chomping at the bit. Also at stake is a chance to jump back into first place after the Wilderness used their three game week last week to take the division’s top spot. The Blizzard of course also have an opportunity to jump right back into the thick of the division as four points on the weekend would see them jump right up to even with the third place Tauros and return the favor of spoiling their home opening weekend.
FILL THE BIN: Every Tauros game this month fans are invited to “Fill the Bin” as Circle Sanitation collects coats and other winter weather clothing items for those in need. We ask that fans bring new or gently used items to the games and put them in the Circle Sanitation bins at the main entrance, the Tauros and Circle Sanitation will do it from there getting the coats to Minot area families in need.
Tickets: Tickets for this weekend’s games can be purchased at tickets.minotauroshockey.com or through the “Tickets” tab atop this page. Avoid the lines, buy your tickets at home in advance and print them or put them on your smart phone.