Minot, ND – The Minotauros host the St. Cloud Norsemen this weekend as the battle for playoff position continues in the ultra-competitive NAHL Central Division. The Tauros currently sit in second place two points behind the Austin Bruins despite being tied with 20 wins by virtue of Austin’s two additional shootout losses. The Norsemen remain on the outside looking in on the playoff picture four points behind the North Iowa Bulls; however the Norsemen have played at least three fewer games than anyone in the division (six fewer than the Tauros) and as a result have more points on the table over the final four months of the season.
Through two weekend sets so far, one in each city, the Tauros and Norsemen have traded weekend splits. In both the Norsemen have won on Friday only for the Tauros to bounce back on Saturday. St. Cloud’s Brandon Lajoie leads all scorers in the series with four goals and an assist through the four contests. The Tauros Dean Schwenninger has a goal and three helpers to lead the Tauros; Trevor Stachowiak has chipped in three goals as well.
Overall on the season the eleventh ranked Tauros sit five spots behind St. Cloud on offense scoring 3.39 goals/game compared to the Norsemen’s 3.63. Meanwhile it is the Tauros that have the edge on defense ranked eighth, which is the best in the Central Division, allowing just 2.83 goals/game compared to St. Cloud’s 2.97 which ranks fourteenth. The Tauros goaltending trio, Carter Clafton, Zach Sandy, and Austin Zavoda share a lot of credit for that difference posting a combine .921 SV% which as a group ties them with Odessa for tops in the NAHL. St. Cloud’s group by comparison has posted a .885 SV% on the year.
The weekend set kicks off a run of four in a row against the Norsemen with the Tauros heading to St. Cloud next weekend. A good showing by the Tauros would go a long way towards pushing the Tauros into the playoffs for the ninth consecutive postseason; however a poor performance could pull the Tauros right back into the Central Division muck battling for the bottom two spots.
Saturday is the monthly Sports Shaq Tauro hockey card giveaway with the first 500 fans receiving a strip of five Tauros player cards. Saturday’s Skate with the Tauros however will be postponed. This is also the final weekend that the Tauros will be wearing Dream Catcher Baseball jerseys which are being auctioned on DASH with the proceeds going to benefit the Dream Catchers.