by Ken Oda
Aberdeen, SD - The Minotauros head to South Dakota for the first time this season to take on the Aberdeen Wings. The rivals split a weekend set in Minot three weeks ago in their first meetings of the season. The Tauros enter the Odde Ice Center riding a four game win steak after Wednesday's convincing 5-1 victory over Bismarck. Aberdeen meanwhile enters the weekend having back-to-back weekend splits with those same Bobcats.
In the first weekend set against the Wings the Tauros saw the emergence of Braydon Beahm as he had goals in both contests including Saturday's game winner. Two of Zack Simon's team leading 12 goals came in that weekend series as well. While he failed to score against his Huston Karpmen did lead the Tauros in points with three helpers against the Wings.
For the Wings Cade Neilson leads the team overall and against the Tauros; he has 30 points on the season, four of which came in Minot, and is the league's second leading scorer. Ronan Walsh did much of the Wing's damage against the Tauros in the first meetings with three goals including two on the power play.
In goal the Tauros have a red hot Zach Sandy who has a league best .934 SV%; his stellar play has seen him take the net every night for nearly a month. With Sandy already getting the nod in Wednesday's win over Bismarck expect to see Carter Clafton get a game in Aberdeen. A run of thee bad starts plus Sandy's dominance have combined to keep Clafton on the bench. The Tauros coaching staff hopes the time to reset will see Clafton return to form and look like the goaltender that posted a .918 SV% and 2.23 GAA through his first four starts this season.
For the Wings Dominik Wasik and Greg Orosz are the current duo since Kyle Kozma and Jed Baliotti were both traded away. Wasik has carried most of the load for the Wings but the tandem of Wasik and Orosz overall have combined for 6-6-1 record, .890 SV%, and 3.23 GAA. The Tauros saw both halves of the duo who both played well posting a combined .903 SV% in the weekend split.
This weekend presents a possible defining moment for the Central Division race this year with the third place Tauros and fourth place Wings facing off. A Tauros, already four points ahead of the Wings would put a decent gap between the division's top three teams and bottom three with a weekend sweep of the Wings. Conversely a Wings sweep could create a three-way tie for second with 25 points pending the results of the Bruins/Bulls series.
Both Friday and Saturday night's games start at 7:15 which means the Farmer's Union Pregame Show will start at 7:00 on HockeyTV, Facebook Live, and the Tauros Hockey App.
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