by Ken Oda
With four games remaining in the regular season the Minotauros are in a dogfight with the Bismarck Bobcats and Austin Bruins for the second seed in the Central Division and home ice advantage in the opening round of the Robertson Cup Playoffs. The Bobcats currently hold a one point edge on the both the Tauros and Bruins, and face the last place Blizzard this weekend before finishing with two games in Austin against the Bruins. The Bruins head to Aberdeen this weekend before hosting Bismarck next weekend. The Tauros meanwhile host the fifth place Wilderness this weekend and then remain home for a pair with Brookings next weekend. The Wilderness come in having been eliminated from playoff contention but riding a two game winning streak after sweeping Brookings last weekend.
After winning 12 of 15 games the Tauros have cooled off salvaging just one point over the last three contests, all against first place Aberdeen. The three game slide has seen the Tauros fall a point back of the Bobcats for home ice in the first round. The Tauros have, on paper, the easiest schedule of the remaining teams in the playoff hunt, however both the Wilderness and Blizzard have shown a willingness and desire to play the roll of spoiler.
The Tauros offense remains fourth best in the North American Hockey League scoring 3.43 goals per game on a fifth best 35.07 shots per contest. David Raisanen and Keenan Lund are tied in the race for the Tauros scoring title with 46 points each. Wilmer Skoog sits just a point behind the veterans with 45 on the season. The trio also lead the Tauros against the Wilderness with 12 points each against Minnesota. The Tauros are 5-3-0 against the Wilderness this season including a weekend sweep at the Maysa earlier this month.
Since winning three in a row against the Tauros to start the new year the Wilderness have won just five games, a January win over Bismarck, a February sweep of the Bobcats and last weekend's sweep of Brookings. Despite that, they remain dangerous. Dylan Johnson has six goals against the Tauros having played in seven of the first eight contests. Jack Johnson who leads the Wilderness with 47 points also leads them against the Tauros with nine on a goal and eight helpers. Goaltender Ryan Fanti held the Tauros at bay when the Wilderness took the first three games of the season series stopping 97 shots over the three wins.
Tickets and Promotions
All weekend long the Tauros will wear jerseys inspired by the race cars of Nodak Speedway, as part of Nodak Speedway Weekend. Saturday the Minotauros Booster Club will be hosting a tailgate party starting at 4:00 p.m. featuring food provided by First International Bank & Trust and race cars from the Nodak Speedway. Maysa Arena doors will open early, at 5:15, as Nodak Speedway Drivers take on the Prairie Grit Sled Hockey Team in game. After the game Melissa Spelchen will provide live music until warmups begin for the Tauros 7:35 puck drop against the Wilderness. After the game fans will be welcome to join the Tauros on the ice to get commemorative posters with all 25 Nodak race car Tauros jerseys which players will be available to autograph as the game worn jerseys will be auctioned off.
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North American Hockey League Stories from March 29, 2019
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