Bismarck, ND – The well-rested Minotauros head 110 miles south to Bismarck to take on the rival Bobcats who suffered just their second regulation loss of the season last Saturday. The Tauros and Bobcats are separated by just five points in the standings, four of which came in the Bobcats sweep of the Tauros earlier this month. That weekend was undoubtedly the Tauros worst of the season, getting outshot 66-40 and outscored 10-3 in picking up two of their four regular season losses.
Despite that bad weekend, the Tauros have taken 20 of a possible 26 points against the rest of the Central Division with a winning record against each Aberdeen, Austin, Minnesota, and St. Cloud. The result is the Tauros holding the second-best record in the division and sixth-best in the league overall. While at first glance the Tauros fourth ranked offense would appear to be the key to their success, in reality defense has been the key. When the Tauros allow three or fewer goals they are 11-0-2, when surrendering four or more they are 1-4-1.
For Bismarck their 15-2-2 start is result of a long term plan coming to fruition. The Bobcats have 15 players in at least their second season as Bobcats and 20 players in at least their second year of junior hockey. By comparison the Tauros have 17 players in their first season in Minot, 10 of whom are junior hockey rookies. Two seasons ago, after missing playoffs the season before the Bobcats brought in a young group with only six 20-year-olds dressing for more than 20 games compared to seven players who suited up that season who are still Bobcats. The growing pains led to a 24-30-6 record and another season missing the playoffs. Then last season the Cats returned to the playoffs finishing third in the Central with a 34-21-5 record only to be swept in the first round by the Tauros.
Regardless of experience, a third of the way into the season the Tauros and the Cats look to be on a collision course for the Central Crown. The teams face each other 10 more times over the final 41 games of the schedule meaning the rivalry will certainly shape the division playoff picture. The Subway Cup, presented annually to the winner of the Tauros and Cats regular season series, may just be a warm up for the Central Cup.
After Wednesday’s game in Bismarck the Tauros will return to Minot to host the St. Cloud Blizzard Friday and Saturday nights. The Tauros will debut their “black out” uniforms for the first time on Black Friday. Additionally on Black Friday the Tauros will be drawing a luck fan each time they score to win $250. Tickets for this weekend’s games in Minot are available through the “Tickets” tab atop this page.