By: Ken Oda, minotauroshockey.com
The Minotauros head to Minnesota looking to get back into the win column after losing two consecutive games for just the second time this season. Despite out shooting the Aberdeen Wings 61-32 last weekend the Tauros only managed to get one point from their division rival. Now the Tauros take on Magicians who like the Tauros have come out of the gate strong. The Magicians sit in second place in the Midwest Division and has gone 5-1 against Central Division opponents. The Tauros meanwhile also sit in second place and have gone 2-1-1 against the Midwest.
The Minotauros have found balance on offense of late with nine players posting multiple points over the last five games. Blake Lizotte, John Snodgrass, and Jake Howie, each have two goals in that span and each skate on a different line. Defenseman Jon Lizotte leads all Tauros over the last five games with five points on a goal and four assists. In net the Tauros goaltending has slumped with both Atte Tolvanen and Tanner Holmes each posting sub-.900 save percentages over the last five contests. Tolvanen who has been the Tauros workhorse still has posted strong numbers overall on the season with a .920 sv% and 2.12 GAA. For the Finnish netminder this weekend is a homecoming of sorts as Tolvanen played Magicians last season posting a .919 sv%.
Minnesota has posted the sixth best offense in the NAHL scoring 3.35 goals per game. Marc Michaelis leads the Magicians and is third in the league with 22 points on 8 goals and 14 assists. Lukas Laub’s nine goals and Sam Becker’s 16 assists lead the Magicians in those respective categories. Vaughan Ahrens has posted a team best .918 sv% but is listed as inactive and has not played since October 16th. Chris Amsden played six games in a row since that date and has posted a .906 sv%. Affiliate Player Cole Weaver started the last game in net and allowed three goals on 32 shots.
For the Tauros this weekend marks the start of five games in nine days, with three games at the Maysa next week. The Tauros are already coming off of a weekend that saw them play three games in as many days so their fitness will be tested. With the top three Central Division teams being separated by only three points and each playing outside of the division this weekend the top of standings could look completely different by Sunday morning. A bounce back from Tolvanen and continued production from the Tauros’ top three lines are the key to the Tauros being on top when the dust settles.