The Prince Albert Mintos are a whisker away from claiming home-ice advantage throughout the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League playoffs for the third straight year following a pair of home-ice victories at the Art Hauser Centre on the weekend.
The Mintos need just one more win or a Saskatoon Contact loss following a 6-3 triumph over the Moose Jaw Generals on Saturday and a 5-2 decision over the Notre Dame Argos on Sunday. Saskatoon kept the race alive with victories over the Swift Current Legionnaires and Notre Dame Hounds on the weekend.
“It was a big weekend for us,” admitted Mintos’ head coach Ken Morrison following Sunday’s win over Notre Dame. “We had a disappointing game in Saskatoon against the Blazers (5-2 loss on Tuesday). We took way too many penalties (Saskatoon scored four power-play goals) and when we went over them in practise, there was just one in our zone. That can’t happen.”
Prince Albert still gave up a pair of power-play goals in each weekend win, but they also scored five times with the man advantage and added another while shorthanded.
Defenseman Bryton Sayers was the biggest offensive star as the 16-year-old had four assists in the win over Moose Jaw and two goals and an assist against the Argos.
“Bryton, he can shoot the puck and he can skate,” said Morrison. “Offensively, he is a big part of our team.”
Justin Boyer, with two goals, Jason Duret, Cody Young, Kylar Hope and Joel Blaquiere also scored against Moose Jaw while Lance Yaremchuk, Blaquiere and Boyer completed the scoring against Notre Dame.
Duret also collected three assists on Sunday to increase his team-leading point total to 59 on 16 goals and 43 assists. Duret is third in league scoring while Yaremchuk is fourth and leads the league in goals with 32.
Lochlan Morrison had a pair of assists in each game giving the 15-year-old defenseman 21 points in his rookie campaign.
Tanner Burgardt stopped 25 shots for the win on Saturday while Lane Michasiw turned aside 28 shots to record the victory on Sunday.
The loss to the Blazers on Tuesday ended an 11-game winning streak for Prince Albert and Morrison says his troops responded to the setback with strong performances on the weekend.
“I was happy with the effort in the first and third periods (of Sunday’s game),” said Morrison, “The first period was really fast; one of the fastest periods I have seen. Both teams were going full out. In the second period I thought we quit getting pucks through.”
Prince Albert will try and put the finishing touches on securing first place and home-ice advantage when they host the Beardy’s Blackhawks on Thursday at 7 p.m. at the Art Hauser Centre.
With home-ice advantage the last two years, Prince Albert won the provincial championship in 2011 and lost in four games in the final to the Contacts last year.
Following Thursday’s game, the Mintos will have just four more regular-season games – two at home and two on the road. The regular season ends on Feb. 24, with Prince Albert playing the Contacts in Saskatoon, and the playoffs will start the following week.
MINTO NOTES: The Mintos and McDonald’s restaurants are partnering up for Thursday’s game to raise funds for Ronald McDonald House. Anyone purchasing a Big Mac Meal, Quarter-Pounder Meal or Happy Meal on Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday will get a free ticket to the game on Thursday. There will be numerous items at the game for fans to bid on with all money going to Ronald McDonald House.