The preliminary round-robin portion is over for the annual Mac‚Äôs Invitational midget hockey tournament in Calgary and one Prince Albert team still has some work to do while the other is heading home.
The A&W Bears are the wild-card team in the female division playoff round after posting a 2-0-2 record in round-robin play, while the Mintos were winless in four starts in the male division preliminary schedule.
The Bears battled the Spruce Grove Saints to a 4-4 draw on Saturday and doubled the Calgary Bruins 4-2 on Sunday to secure a spot in the final four. They will play the Saskatoon Stars in one semifinal today with the Westman Wildcats facing the Edmonton Thunder in the other. Saskatoon was 3-0-1 in their pool during round-robin play.
The Bears and Stars have met twice this year in league play with Prince Albert winning both games. The Bears also beat the Stars in an exhibition game back in September.
Bears‚Äô captain Kaitlin Willoughby scored a pair of goals in each weekend game to lead the Prince Albert offence with Kelly Regnier, the leading scorer in the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League, collecting a single tally in each contest. Lexi Van Camp had the other goal in the Sunday win over Calgary while Megan Sloboshan completed the scoring on Saturday, with her marker coming with 12 seconds left in regulation time to secure the point and ultimately put the Bears in a playoff position.
Jessica Vance tended the Prince Albert goal against Spruce Grove and faced just 17 shots while the Bears peppered the Saints‚Äô goal with 42 blasts. On Sunday, Sara Olson turned aside 14 shots to record the win over Calgary with the Bears once again dominating the shot clock after firing 39 shots at the Bruins‚Äô goal.
Should the Bears get past Saskatoon today they will be in the championship final scheduled for New Year‚Äôs Day.
For the Mintos, a tough week came to an end on Sunday when they battled to the last whistle in losing 3-2 to the Calgary North Stars.
While heading to the tournament on Christmas Day, long-time equipment manager Dan (Cobra) Taylor became seriously ill and was transported to hospital in Saskatoon. Taylor is still in intensive care and it was obvious the team had him on their minds.
The top team in the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League, the Mintos managed just one point in the tournament, a 4-4 draw with the Cariboo Cougars on Saturday.
The Mintos showed their grit in Sunday‚Äôs finale as they scored twice in the last two minutes to give Calgary a scare, but in the end the loss left them with a 0-3-1 record and out of the playoffs.
Adam Osczevski and Bryton Sayers scored for the Mintos with Lane Michasiw stopping 21 shots in the Prince Albert goal. The Mintos directed 38 shots at the Calgary net.
Against the undefeated Cariboo team, Jason Duret, Justin Boyer, Kylar Hope and Sayers staked the Mintos to a 4-2 lead after 40 minutes of play, but they could not hold off the Cougars. Hope also had a pair of assists as did Osczevski.
Michasiw was in goal once again for the Mintos making 13 saves.
Several other Saskatchewan teams were also in the tournament with the Tisdale Trojans (1-3-0), Battlefords Stars (2-2-0), Saskatoon Blazers (2-2-0), Moose Jaw Generals (0-1-3) and the Saskatoon Contacts (2-1-1) all missing the playoffs. Melville Prairie Fire was the third provincial team in the female division, but they too failed to advance to the playoff round after registering just one tie in four starts.
The Mintos will have a few days off to regroup before returning to league play this weekend. Prince Albert hosts the Regina Pat Canadians on Saturday and the Swift Current Legionnaires on Sunday. Both games are at 1:30 p.m. at the Art Hauser Centre.
Both the Bears and Mintos also have the inaugural Outdoor Classic on Jan. 19 to look forward to. The Bears will play the Stars and Mintos will take on the Blazers in a series of games to be played at the Crescent Heights Arena. Tickets for that event, which also includes a pair of atom hockey games, are now on sale.