by: Ken Oda, minotauroshockey.com
Minot, ND – Under head coach Marty Murray the Minotauros have always been good at keeping the puck out of their own net. Now with one of the more potent offenses in the league as well the Tauros find themselves off to the best start in franchise history. Despite the offensive improvement, or perhaps even because of it, the Tauros are also posting their best defensive numbers ever as well allowing a measly 25 shots per game which is second best in the NAHL. The first place Tauros next challenge will be the Minnesota Wilderness, who allow only 23.71 shots per game, for a pair of games on Friday and Saturday nights.
The Tauros offense already has seven players in double figures and is posting 3.21 goals per game. With a goal and an assist in Tuesday night’s 3-2 win over Aberdeen Blake Lizotte (5g, 5a) became the fastest Tauro ever to the 20 point mark reaching that level in just 19 games played. Jon Lizotte (no relation) currently sits third among NAHL defenseman with 17 points on five goals and 12 assists. The Wilderness offense is similarly balanced with five players having at least 10 points. Niklas Lehtimaki (6g, 6a) leads the Wilderness with 12 points overall, while Tyler Cline’s seven goals are the team high.
The Tauros’ improvement on offense can be traced to a balance that creates matchup problems for opposing defenses. The top line of Blake Lizotte, Christian Mohs, and Johnny Walker has been credited with 100 shots on goal resulting in 18 goals. The line of Troy Degler, Jake Howie, and Chase Springman has 119 shots for 15 goals. The Tauros two more defensively focused forward lines have also produced, combining for 16 goals on 148 shots.
As for keeping the puck out of the net, as mentioned above both of these teams do a great job of limiting their opponents chances. The limited shot totals are reflected in the teams’ goals against rankings as well with the Tauros ranking fifth allowing 2.47 goals per game and the Wilderness sitting ninth at 2.71. The Wilderness have allowed veteran Brock Kautz and rookie Ryan Anderson to split time. Kautz has narrowly outplayed Anderson posting a better save percentage (.900 to .892) but a worse goals against average (2.43 to 2.39). For the Tauros Atte Tolvanen has earned the lion’s share of the work posting a .916 sv% and 2.17 GAA. Tanner Holmes however has managed a 3-0-1 record securing the Tauros at least a point in each of his four starts.
The Tauros are 4-1-1 against the Midwest Division so far this season splitting with both Kenai River and Fairbanks in Alaska in October and sweeping the Magicians last weekend. With 19 points on a 9-7-1 record the Wilderness currently sit in third place in the Midwest behind Fairbanks and the Magicians.
Tickets for the weekend’s games are still available by clicking the “Tickets” tab atop this page. Buy your tickets online and print them at home to avoid the lines at the Maysa and get a $1.00 off of your next meal at Spicy Pie. For those who can not get to the Maysa the game will be available on fasthockey.com.