The Prince Albert Mintos can be excused for their slow start at the Mac‚Äôs Invitational tournament as their minds and hearts were likely somewhere else when they played the Winnipeg Wild on Wednesday.
While en route to Calgary on Christmas Day, long-time equipment manager Dan (Cobra) Taylor suffered a serious illness on the bus and was then transported to hospital in Saskatoon where he is recuperating. To honour their fallen team member, the players wore a ‚ÄúC‚ÄĚ on their helmets for their opening game of the tournament, but the series of events obviously had taken a toll on the team.
The Wild opened the scoring just 15 seconds into the game and before the contest was 10 minutes old, the lead was stretched to 3-0. Starting netminder Tanner Burgardt was replaced by Lane Michasiw after he allowed the three goals on just six shots, but even the change in net couldn‚Äôt get the Mintos untracked.
Kylar Hope scored for Prince Albert before the first period was over, but Winnipeg added two more goals in the middle frame before Adam Osczevski completed the scoring in the third period. Justin Boyer collected assists on both Prince Albert goals
Michasiw finished the game with 17 saves on 19 shots while Prince Albert directed 30 shots at the Winnipeg goal.
The 5-2 loss isn‚Äôt the start the Mintos were looking for, but they will try and bounce back today when they take on the Edmonton Southside Athletic Club in another preliminary round-robin game. The Mintos, who are in first place in the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League with a 19-5-2-0 record, will also have games on Saturday against the Cariboo Cougars and on Sunday against the Calgary North Stars in round-robin action. They will need to turn things around in those contests if they hope to advance to the playoff round, which starts on Monday.
The Prince Albert A&W Bears are also at the tournament and they play their first game today against the Edmonton Thunder.
The Bears, who are second in the Saskatchewan Female AAA Hockey League, will also have games against the Pacific Ravens on Friday, Spruce Grove Saints on Saturday and Calgary Bruins on Sunday.
Like the boy‚Äôs division, the playoff round in the female division will begin on Monday with the championship final scheduled for New Year‚Äôs Day.