by Ken Oda
Minot, ND - The Minotauros continue their three week homestand to open the 2020-21 season by hosting the Minnesota Wilderness this weekend. The Tauros split their season opening series last weekend taking three of four points from the Bismarck Bobcats with a Friday win and Saturday shootout loss. For the Wilderness this weekend will mark their first contests of the regular season. Last weekend the Wilderness split a preseason set with the Minnesota Magicians, losing 5-1 at home on Friday and winning 5-3 on the road on Saturday.
For the Tauros the story coming out of the first weekend was Bauer NAHL Central Division Star of the Week Keenan Rancier. The Tauro goaltender stopped 90 of 92 shots on the weekend against Bismarck leading the Tauros to a 1-0 victory on Friday and taking a tough luck 3-2 shootout loss on Saturday. Two Tauros posted two points last weekend, Kaiden Scott posted a shorthanded goal and an assist in Saturday's loss and Joseph Harguindeguy had an assist each night. Carter Korpi and Damon Zimmer each chipped in their first goals as Tauros as well.
For the Wilderness they return 10 players from last year's team which was five points behind the Tauros with two more games played at the time of the Covid-19 shutdown. Jacob Herter's 21 points on 11 goals and 10 helpers leads their returning group as was good for ninth on last year's squad. In goal UND commit Kaleb Johnson returns for his third season with the Wilderness. For his career he has posted a .900 SV% and 3.05 GAA through 48 games along with a 20-22-4 record. Aside from their 10 veterans the Wilderness picked up three more players with NAHL experience adding former Bobcat goalie Atticus Kelley, Levi Stauber who spent two seasons with the Austin Bruins before playing in the BCHL last season, and Jordan Cormier from Jamestown in the dispersal draft.
In last season's head-to-head match-up the Tauros went 3-2-1. A.J. Ruskowski posted a .934 SV% in two starts against the Wilderness but had just 1-1-0 record; while Johnson went 2-2-0 for the Wilderness while posting a .919 SV% against the Tauros. Hunter Bjorge leads returning Tauros with four points against the Wilderness. On the other side Herter also leads his teams group of returners with four points on a goal and three assists against the Tauros last year.
With the Aberdeen Wings and Bismarck Bobcats taking each other on this weekend and next the Tauros have a chance to move ahead in the standings if they take care of business on the Pepsi Rink at Maysa Arena.
Minotauros Attendance and Covid-19
While the Covid-19 pandemic forced the end of last season and delayed the start of this one, we are hopeful that it will have no deeper impact on the upcoming schedule. The safety and health of our fans is our utmost priority and we will continue to strive to do our best to find the appropriate balance to serve and entertain our fans throughout the upcoming season. The Minotauros will be respecting all federal, state, and local guidance and following any relevant laws and/or ordinances as they apply. At this time, we continue to take our guidance from local authorities who allow for full attendance at the Maysa Arena and optional mask wearing at our games. Additionally the Minotauros will be enacting additional optional safeguards to protect our fans including the steps below.
Optional "Socially Distant Seating" is already implemented and available in sections 115 and 116, the Minotauros may increase or decrease this based on demand from the community and input from health officials.
To help combat the spread of Covid, hand sanitizing stations will be made available throughout the arena.
The Minotauros have upgraded to touchless payment systems where possible to help minimize spread.
Unfortunately, in conjunction with North American Hockey League return to play protocols, some events that we cherish, such as Skate with the Tauros will have to be postponed for the time being. The Tauros players and staff remain optimistic that they will return in the not too distant future as we all strive to find a new, safe, normal. Additionally, for all six October home games flex tickets from the 2019-20 season will still be valid as fans lost the opportunity to redeem them for final six games from last season.
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North American Hockey League Stories from October 16, 2020
- Nordiques Win on the Road in a Shootout - Maine Nordiques
- Wings Win on the Road at Bismarck - Aberdeen Wings
- Hawks Fall to Nordiques in Home Opener Shootout - Johnstown Tomahawks
- Nordlund, D'Agostino Lead Tricks to 3-2 Win on First Road Trip - Danbury Jr. Hat Tricks
- Wilderness Adventure - Minot Minotauros
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