By: Ken Oda, minotauroshockey.com
Aberdeen, SD – The Minotauros week is off to a good start with wins over the Bismarck Bobcats and Brookings Blizzard by a combined 7-0 score guaranteeing the Tauros at least a .500 run through a stretch of four games in five nights in three cities. The Tauos will wrap up the run with a home-and-home set with the Aberdeen Wings starting tonight in Aberdeen before returning to the Maysa tomorrow for the Tauros final regular season home game.
Last night in Brookings the Tauros dominated the play. Johnny Walker (19g 21a) and John Snodgrass (14g 15a) scored in the first to push the Tauros out to a 2-0 lead through the first 20 minutes. Walker’s 19th of the season came on a one timer at the 6:55 mark when he was left alone in front of the net. Snodgrass’s tally came late in the period off of a scramble at the side of the net at the 18:16 mark. Snodgrass added his second of the night at almost the same point 18:26 of the second period again off of a net mouth scramble to give the Tauros a 3-0 lead. That was more than enough offense for Tauros affiliate player goaltender Jon Flakne (1-0-0, 0.00 gaa, 1.000 sv%) who stopped all 19 shots he faced in his first junior game for the shutout win.
Now while the Tauros turn their attention to the Aberdeen Wings, they will also be keeping one eye on the Blizzard and Bruins who play in Brookings this weekend. The Central Division crown is still within reach for the Tauros who trail the Austin Bruins by three points headed into the season’s final four games. The margin of error is slim for the Tauros, any combination of three Austin wins or Minot losses will give the Bruins the division crown. The Tauros are 6-2-2 against both Aberdeen and Bismarck whom provide the Tauros opposition over the final four games while Austin is just 5-3-0 against Brookings whom they play four times over the next two weeks.
For the Tauros to take care of their business against Aberdeen they will have to find a way to stop Kyle Haak (17g 33a) who has a point per game against the Tauros this season on three goals and seven assists. With three goals and four assists along with a +5 rating Michael Soucier (17g 18a) has been the Wings best skater against the Tauros. Overall, however, the Tauros have held the Wings to just 20 goals in 10 meetings; so as it has been all season the key against Aberdeen will not be limiting offense but finding it. The trick to that may be the defensemen, who have eight of the Tauros 27 goals against Aberdeen on the year as well as 16 assists. Jared Brandt (3g 14a) leads the blue-liners with two goals and four helpers against the Wings. In net Atte Tolvanen (26-12-5, 1.96 gaa, .922 sv%) has put up video game numbers against the Wings with a .963 sv% and 0.74 gaa.
After tonight’s battle in South Dakota the teams will come to Minot for the Tauros final home game of the regular season. The Tauros will honor their billet families in a ceremony before the game to show their appreciation for providing a home for the players while these young men chase their dreams. After the game the Tauros will be auctioning off their game worn road jerseys. Fan will be invited onto the ice to bid for the jerseys worn all season by their favorite Tauros. Tickets for tomorrow night’s game are available by clicking the “Tickets” tab atop this page.