By: Ken Oda, minotauroshockey.com
Minot, ND – The Minot Minotauros are proud to announce that six players along with Head Coach Marty Murray will be heading to the NAHL Top Prospects Tournament in Ann Arbor, MI, to represent the club in the league’s all star festivities presented by Easton Hockey. Forwards Christian Mohs and Johnny Walker, defensemen Jon Lizotte and Casey Johnson, and goaltender Atte Tolvanen will all play for the Central Division team which will be coached by Murray. Forward Blake Lizotte, will play on the NAHL Selects team which is comprised of the top young players in the North American Hockey League.
Jon Lizotte will be attending Top Prospects for the second season in a row. Last season the Tauros defenseman had one assist in the two game tournament. This year as the Tauros captain he has 29 points on 10 goals and 19 assists. His 54 career points are second all time among Tauros behind Jadin Martin’s 71.
Atte Tolvanen will also at Top Prospects for the second time, though it is his first as a Tauro. Last season, Tolvanen played for the Midwest Division’s team stopping 22 of the 23 shots he faced in earning the Midwest’s only win. This season with a .921 SV% and 2.01 GAA, Tolvanen is posting the best numbers by any Tauros goaltender. He is also the first Tauros goalie to record 20 wins with a record of 20-9-3, and his 4 shutouts are also a Tauro record.
Casey Johnson will be making his first appearance at Top Prospects; the rookie currently has seven goals and ten assists on the season. His seven goals have him ranked seventh overall among NAHL defensemen, he is 10th among his peers with a 12% shooting percentage.
Christian Mohs is also a rookie, he is 13th in the NAHL in scoring posting 41 points on 12 goals and 29 assists. His +23 rating is good for ninth in the NAHL. His four shorthanded points (2 goals and 2 assists) are a team record.
Johnny Walker is in his second season with the Tauros and will be making his first trip to Top Prospects. The Tauros assistant captain converted to forward this season after being in and out of the lineup last season as a defenseman. His 16 goals this season are the most scored in a season by any Tauro.
Blake Lizotte, will be the youngest player at the Top Prospects event. It will be the third season in a row that the Tauros will have a player on the NAHL Selects team; last season Michael Bigelbach was selected and the year before both Mason Morelli and Jake Clifford went as Tauros. Lizotte’s 45 points on 12 goals and 33 assists rank sixth in the NAHL and make for the highest point total in a season by a Tauro.
Marty Murray was selected to be the coach of the Central Division team as a result of the Tauros being in first place in the Central Division. Murray is in his third full season with the Tauros after taking over late in the team’s inaugural campaign. Murray captained the 1995 Canadian World Junior team to gold, and followed that with a 14 year professional career that included 261 games in the NHL.
The seven Tauros will attend the Top Prospects event February 23-24 in Ann Arbor, MI. The five NAHL teams will be joined by the USA Hockey National Team Development Program (NTDP). Murray’s Team Central will face the all stars from the North and South Divisions while the Blake Lizotte and the Selects will face the Midwest Division and the NTDP.