By: Ken Oda, minotauroshockey.com
Onalaska, WI – The Tauros head into the holiday with an unusual Thurday night match-up with the Coulee Region Chill. The Tauros are two games from the 30 game mark, the half way point of the season, and play the teams directly ahead and behind them in the standings this weekend. A win tonight in Coulee would push the Tauros lead over the Chill to nine points for the final playoff spot in the division, it also would set up an chance for the Tauros to pass the Brookings Blizzard in the standings tomorrow night in Brookings.
The Chill come in playing some of their best hockey of the season. They swept the Aberdeen Wings last weekend out scoring them 9-2 over the two games. Blake Cates has backstopped the Chill in the majority of their games and has gone 6-6-2 on the season. Cates has a .925 SV% and 2.65 GAA, but the Tauros were able to get to him when the two teams played in late November, scoring five goals in a game and a half against the Chill netminder. Mac Jansen has been the engine of the Chill’s offense with 25 points including 15 goals; he also has 37 more shots than anyone else on the Coulee Region roster.
For the Tauros Ryan Ruck will most likely return to the net tonight for his first action since he knocked off the Chill in November. Ruck has appeared in eight games on the season and gone 2-4-1. While his numbers are not spectacular they are brought down by a few bad games which due to his back-up role have a larger effect on his numbers. While Ruck has a .866 SV% on the season, he has a .909 SV% when excluding his three worst appearances. Jadin Martin has been on fire of late with five goals and five assists in the last ten games. Jake O’Borsky has cooled off from his blistering pace with just eight points in that same span, but still leads the Tauros with 22 points in 20 games played. Tim Donohue had a goal in his return from injury last weekend against Bismarck last weekend.
Player to Watch: Zach Holstrom, has four assists in the last five games and is a team best +5 in that time.