NYE 2020 Preview
by Ken Oda
Bismarck, ND - In what has become an annual tradition the Minotauros will close the calendar year in the Capital of North Dakota battling the Bobcats on New Years Eve. While 2020 may not be a year remembered fondly for most, for both hockey and non-hockey reasons, it was not without bright spots for the Cream and Cardinal: the Tauros were on pace to have made the playoffs last season at the time of the cancellation for the 9th year in a row, Kyler Kleven was named the 2020 NAHL Rookie of the Year, seven Tauros represented the team at the NAHL Top Prospects Tournament, and 15 NCAA DI commits suited up for the Tauros. That said, the Minotauros come out of the Christmas break looking to get back on the right track. They opened the month winning three in a row, but lost the next three games going into the vacation. Like most people on New Years Eve the Tauros will be looking to make the right first step into the new year.
The Tauros have shown themselves to be firmly in the top half of the division going 6-1-1 against Austin, St. Cloud, and Minnesota this season but now must prove that they can hang with the big boys. A 2-5-2 record against Bismarck and Aberdeen is just simply not good enough for a team with title aspirations. To that point the Tauros made a pair of roster moves over the break to bring in a pair of NCAA DI commits. The Tauros' Captain, Jack Westlund, has stepped up against the Cats with six of his 10 points on the season coming against the Tauros' biggest rival. Carter Korpi, a former Bobcat, has also done well against his former team with three goals and an assist.
The Bobcats have been charging hard to try to chase down the second place Tauros. Their weekend sweep of the Tauros just before the Christmas break was possibly a season saver as it rescued the Cats from falling to 5-10-2; and while 7-8-2 instead is still below the .500 mark it is just three points behind the Tauros 8-6-3 record. The Cats were 3-2-2 in December and a NYE win at home would put a nice bow on the 2020 calendar year. Veteran forward George Grannis has been the main threat for the Cats against the Tauros posting seven points in seven games including four goals. Luke Gramer has pitched in five helpers and a goal from the blue line, and Austin Schwartz has three markers along with two assists.
Overall New Years Eve in Bismarck has been a mixed bag for the Tauros who have ruined the Bobcats' bash three times while losing in four of the festive contests. The game is already sold out due to Covid restrictions in North Dakota but as always fans can follow the games on HockeyTV.com, Mixlr, Facebook, and GoTauros.com.
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North American Hockey League Stories from December 31, 2020
- Hawks Defeat Generals 8-0 in Empty Arena on New Year's Eve - Johnstown Tomahawks
- Thomas Jarman Heading to BU Early - Maryland Black Bears
- Jets Set to Resume Division Play, Host Fairbanks - Janesville Jets
- NYE 2020 Preview - Minot Minotauros
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