Just days before the start of the North American Hockey League season, Steven Sherman was dropped from the Wenatchee (Wash.) Wild.
Sherman was let go because Wild coach Bliss Littler, a Minot native, didn't have room on his roster.
"It was just a numbers game," Littler said.
Sherman is hoping to prove his worth tonight as a member of the Minot Minotauros, who look for their first win in the home opener against the Wild (4-0) at 7:35 at Maysa Arena.
"Oh, you know, it'll be great," Sherman said. "I obviously went through training camp and preseason with them and know a bunch of the guys and have a lot of respect for them, but at the same time we're playing against them and no friends on the ice when the puck drops Friday."
Sherman joined the Tauros (0-4) last week at the league's showcase tournament in Blaine, Minn. The San Diego native and second-year NAHL player took five shots in his first three appearances with Minot.
Sherman's biggest asset in this weekend's two-game series may be the knowledge he gained through preseason in Wenatchee.
"I know what they're gonna do and know what to expect and I'm sure I'll go over it with (coach) Marty (Murray) a little bit," Sherman said. "But for the most part, we just have to control how we come out. There's nothing we can do about them. We just have to focus on our intensity in the home opener and playing well and if we take care of that we'll be fine."
Knocking off the Wild - a team Murray described as "probably the best in the league" - will take much smarter play than the Tauros displayed last week.
Wenatchee is in first place in the West Division. The Wild have a 19-9 goal differential and the second-best penalty kill (94.74) in the NAHL.
Through Wednesday, Wild forward Jono Davis led the league with nine points (four goals, five assists).
"It's gonna be a big challenge for us no doubt," Murray said, "but hopefully we can iron some things out this week and we're gonna have to be real disciplined within our systems and stay out of the penalty box."
Penalties plagued Minot at the showcase as the Tauros gave up six power play goals.
Defenseman Jake Clifford proved to be the team's strong point in the first four games. Clifford leads the team in points with his five assists and was the runner-up for player of the week in the Central Division.
"We gotta play a full game," Clifford said. "We came out a couple periods strong and then fell off for a couple minutes and bad things happened, but we'll get our heads on straight and we'll come back strong."
Clifford, 17, is a rookie, who played club hockey in Cleveland last season.
"He's kind of mature beyond his years," Murray said. "He's a nice player that we're real happy to have him on board. ... (For) his first four games of junior hockey he certaintly didn't look like he was a rookie out there."
Clifford's emergence led to the trade of Joe Hockert, who was sent to Bismarck on Thursday in exchange for a second-round draft pick. The Tauros added defenseman Chance Creger, who played for the Dauphin Kings of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League a year ago. Creger played with Corpus Christi of the NAHL in 2010-11.
Ryan Ruck will start in goal for Minot. Ruck played in three games last week, giving up 13 goals and making 61 saves.
Littler to keep
Littler, a 1985 graduate of Minot High School, is in his first year with Wenatchee and last coached the Omaha Lancers of the United States Hockey League - a tier above the NAHL. Littler is the winningest coach in USA Junior Tiers I and II with 577 wins in 19 seasons.
"I've had some (Minot) friends tell me to keep my head up cause I'll have some eggs thrown at me," he joked.