By: Ken Oda, minotauroshockey.com
Cloquet, MN – The Minotauros have been the the NAHL’s best road team this season going 18-2-2 in road games to this point. They have however been in the middle of the pack at home going just 10-8-3 at the Maysa, including two losses to this weekend’s opponent the Minnesota Wilderness. The teams each sit atop their respective divisions with the Tauros leading in the Central and the Wilderness heading the Midwest.
Defense ruled when the these to clubs met in Minot, with the Wilderness winning a pair of one goal affairs 1-0 and 3-2. The Tauros offense has improved since then scoring 3.54 goals per game compared to 3.21 before. That improvement should continue with the addition Mitch Snyder; the Tauros first round pick from last summer’s draft. Snyder spent the last two seasons in Green Bay in the USHL playing 51 games and posting eight points. Prior to playing for the Gamblers Snyder played in the NAHL for the now defunct Fresno Monsters with current Tauro James Mathias (10g 12a) and former Tauro Tyler Shipstead. While in Fresno Snyder finished tied for the team lead with 35 points on 18 goals and 17 assists; and at +4 he was the only Monster to finish with a positive rating.
With Snyder in the fold the Tauros offense should be able to roll three scoring lines. The top line of Blake Lizotte (12g 34a), Christian Mohs (13g 29a), and Johnny Walker (16g 13a), has been among the top producing lines in the NAHL all season; and has rewritten the Tauros record books. Mathias and his linemates Colton Kramer (7g 9a) and Nick Monfils (10g 11a) have found chemistry since returning from the Christmas break combining for 13 goals and 19 assists since the holiday. That would leave Snyder to most likely skate with Troy Degler (4g 13a) and Jake Howie (10g 9a). The Tauros “fourth line” will be better than most as well with Chase Springman (11g 16a) and John Snodgrass (10g 10a) skating with either Tim Athley (3g 5a) or Quinn Fuchs (2g 4a).
As for the Wilderness Darian Romanko (19g 13a) leads in goals and had one in the two games at the Maysa. Aaron Miller (10g 24a) is their overall points leader; with Tyler Cline (13g 17a) and Ivan Chukarov (9g 21a) rounding out the 30 point club. Ryan Anderson (2.16gaa .902sv%)will probably be in goal for the Wildreness having played 20 of the last 21 games.
After this weekend’s meeting of division leaders the Minotauros will finally return home to the Maysa Arena to host the Bismarck Bobcats on Saturday February 14th. Tickets for the game are available online by clicking the “Tickets” tab atop this page. Also fans who purchase season tickets for the remainder of the 2014/15 season will receive tickets to the first round of the playoffs free! Season ticket packages are prorated for the final nine games of the season for more info click here. Lastly Minotauros play-by-play voice Ken Oda has been nominated for the Fasthockey.com Broadcaster Battle vote for him here.