By: Ken Oda, minotauroshockey.com
Brookings, SD – The first place Tauros had a rare Friday off after dispatching the Aberdeen Wings on Wednesday. The overtime win had moved the Tauros out to a four point lead over the rest of the Central Division but Austin’s win over Aberdeen has cut that lead to two. Brookings meanwhile sits in fifth place in the Central two points behind Bismarck, but has played just 22 games compared to the Bobcats 25. This will be the Tauros first trip to Brookings this year, the teams split a set in Minot in late October.
The Blizzard offense is lead by the combo of Beau Michaud and Zach Glienke. The duo has combined for 18 goals and 30 assists so far on the season, including a goal and three helpers against the Tauros. Overall on the season the Blizzard have struggled to create offensive chance coming in ranked 20th in shots per game (26.45) but with the eighth best shooting percentage (10.7%) in the league they have converted the chances they get. The result is the 15th ranked offense scoring 2.82 goals per game. Outside of Michaud (8) and Glienke (10) no other Brookings player has more than three goals except for Joe Anderson. At the other end of the ice the Blizzard have done well to limit shots against ranking ninth at just 28.5 shots against per game, however a team save percentage at .885 has lead to Brookings being 19th in goals against.
Minot has been playing some of the best hockey in franchise history of late. The team has been limiting opposing offenses all year, ranking fourth in both shots and goals against allowing just 25.83 shots per game and 2.42 goals. The result is the Atte Tolvanen sits in the top 10 in just about every goalie stat category and his backup Tanner Holmes has earned at least a point in each of his starts. Conversely when the Tauros have the puck they rank sixth overall in goals (3.21) but only 12th in shots (28.83). The Tauros offense has been getting more shots of late however getting 32.2 shots per game over the last 10 starts. Over that span the Tauros offensive leaders Blake Lizotte and Christian Mohs have elevated their already strong play with 15 points (5g, 10a) and 14 points (4g, 10a) respectively. Chase Springman has also been over a point per game over the last 10 games with four goals and eight assists. Defenseman Casey Johnson has three goals over the last ten giving him four on the season and moving him into the top 10 in goals among NAHL blue liners. Look for Troy Degler and Jake Howie to heat up as each have a goal against the Blizzard already this season and the duo combined for 15 points against them last season.
Saturday night’s game will be the Minotauros November Road Watch Party at Buffalo Wings and Rings. Door open at 6:30 and admission to the party is $15 for all you can eat wings and soda or $30 for all you can eat wings and beer, children eight and under are just $5.