By: Ken Oda, minotauroshockey.com
Minot, ND – The Minotauros head into the season’s penultimate weekend with a difficult stretch that could add some clarity to the Central Division’s playoff picture. As of Thursday morning Austin and Minot had locked in the top two spots, but the Tauros still have a chance to run down the Bruins for the Central crown. Third place Bismarck also has clinched a playoff spot but has yet to get past the reach of fourth place Aberdeen. While Aberdeen attempts to catch the Bobcats, they must also be weary of the Brookings Blizzard whom are still within striking distance of the Central’s final playoff spot.
After the Tauros and Blizzard battle tonight they will then become each others’ biggest fans with the Tauros playing a home-and-home with the Aberdeen Wings on Friday and Saturday night while the Blizzard remain home for a pair with Austin. But before these two clubs can help each other they have to try to hurt each other one last time. The Tauros have gone 9-1-1 against the Blizzard so far on the season and a win tonight would pull the Tauros within three points of Austin for the division title. Johnny Walker (18g 21a) leads the Tauros against the Blizzard with seven goals and five assists. Every Tauro skater on the roster with the exception of Nate Pionk (0g 1a) who has yet to play Brookings has at least one point against the Blizzard. The Tauros goaltenders have had as much to do with the Tauros success against Brookings as the skaters having allowed just 21 goals in the 11 meetings.
Nate Colwell (11g 22a) is the only Blizzard with more than two goals against the Tauros with three on the season. Zach Glienke (16g 21a) has a team best eight points against the Tauros coming on a goal and seven assists. The Tauros have held Blizzard leading scorer Beau Michaud (16g 30a) to just two goals and two assists on the season. The Tauros have put 36 goals past Eric Hancock (8-11-4, 3.01 gaa, .896 sv%) and Ryan Kubic (10-12-5, 2.49 gaa, .915 sv%) who have split time against the Tauros, Hancock has both of the Blizzard’s wins over Minot.
After tonight’s game in Brookings the Minotauros will head to Aberdeen before returning to the Maysa to host the Wings on Saturday night. Saturday night’s affair will be the Tauros last home game of the regular season. After the game the Tauros will auction off their game worn road jerseys. Tickets for Saturday night’s game at 8:05 p.m. are available by clicking the “Tickets” tab atop this page.