Minot, ND – The Minotauros host the North Iowa Bulls as the marathon season morphs into a sprint. With just 12 games left on the slate the Tauros find themselves in a dogfight for one of three playoff spots in the NAHL Central. Currently on the outside looking in the Tauros sit in fifth place just one point behind this weekend’s opponent for the fourth and final playoff spot. Despite that the Tauros are also just three points behind Aberdeen and St. Cloud for second place and two points ahead of Bismarck for sixth.
That is all to say that the for everyone in the Central, except first place Austin, a finish anywhere between second and last place is on the table and every game carries significant meaning. For the Tauros this weekend provides an opportunity to leapfrog the team directly ahead of them and with some help possibly jump all the way up into second place.
The Tauros are 3-1-0 against North Iowa this season, but by quirk of the schedule have not seen the other cattle logoed bunch since October 15th. Since then a combined 18 players (eight Tauros and 10 Bulls) that dress in those first four meetings have been replaced, in some cases multiple times.
Hunter Longhi leads all scorers in the series with three goals and three assists. Chase LaPinta has a goal and three helpers, and Nick O’Hanisain has two goals to lead defensemen. North Iowa was led by Byron Hartley who had two markers and an assist in the first four meetings.
The Bulls play a bit of a counter punching game. They rank 27th in the NAHL with 25.77 shots per contest and 22nd overall with 2.73 goals per game, both the lowest in the NAHL Central. They also allow the most shots against per game in the division at 32.67. However the group plays a disciplined game with 176 fewer penalty minutes than anyone else in the division, that discipline also carries over to support of their goaltenders who despite seeing the most shots in the Central have allowed the second fewest goals behind only first place Austin.
This Saturday the Tauros are partnering with Farmers Union Insurance for a food drive/jersey giveaway. The first 750 fans who bring three non-perishable food items or a $10 donation will receive a Tauros/Farmers Union hockey jersey. Tickets for all six remaining home games are available through the “Tickets” tab atop this page or at tickets.minotauroshockey.com.