by Ken Oda
Storyline - Over the last two seasons the Tauros and Aberdeen Wings have each won the Central Division regular season crown only to be upset in the playoffs by the other who then went on to represent the Central at the Robertson Cup. This season they sit in the top two spots in the division with the Wings just one point away from clinching the top spot and the Tauros fighting for the second seed a point ahead of the Bruins heading into the weekend. The Tauros are 3-5-0 against the Wings this season including 2-2-0 in Aberdeen and just 1-3-0 against the Wings at home.
Tauros - The Tauros remain among the hottest teams in the league going 8-2-0 over the last 10 game. Since ending a four-game losing streak with a win on January 12th the Tauros have gone 14-3-0 and outscored opponents 62-30. Didrik Henbrant followed his NAHL Central Division Star of the Week honor with a pair of game winning goals against the Bismarck Bobcats last week only to be unseated as Star of the Week by Tauros' goaltender Nicholas Grabko who allowed just one goal in each of those wins.
Wilmer Skoog has led the Tauros against the Wings with five points on two goals and three helpers. Vince Marino also has five points against the Wings this year though three of them came as a member of the Brookings Blizzard. Tauros leading scorer David Raisanen, Taylor Lantz, and Fritz Belisle all have posted a pair of goals against the Wings this season too. Both Tauros goaltenders Grabko and Ben Garrity have performed well against the Wings with .910 and .915 save percentages respectively.
Wings - The Wings pulled away from the rest of the Central with a 19 game winning streak from November 30th through February 1st. Since then they have gone 7-4-1 including a split with the Tauros three weeks ago in Aberdeen. The Wings continue to battle Amarillo for the top statistical rankings, currently sitting second behind the Bulls in offense at 4.20 goals per game and first ahead of Amarillo with 2.06 goals against per contest. The individual statistics reflect the Wings' team dominance. Three Wings; Brad Belisle (31g 31a), John Sladic (17g 35a), and Joe Strada (13g 37a), are in the top 20 NAHL scorers. Meanwhile Matt Vernon is third in the NAHL with a 1.93 GAA and second with a .934 SV%.
In the eight games thus far in the season series Sladic has led the Wings with three goals and seven assists for 10 points. Jonathan Bendorf, Belisle, and Riley Murphy each have four goals to tie for the team lead. In net Vernon has played all eight contests and out-performed his season numbers posting a 1.87 GAA and .944 SV% while going 5-2-1 against the Tauros.
Watch and Listen - Tickets for both games are available through the "Tickets" tab atop this page. Doors open at 6:30 both nights for 7:35 puck drops. Fans who can not make it to the Pepsi Rink at Maysa Arena can tune in on all three outlets of the Minotauros Network: AM 1390 KRRZ, HockeyTV.com, and the "Listen Live" tab. The Famers Union Pregame Show starts at 7:20 p.m. both nights.
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