Being a vice-principle in the education system, Ken Morrison is always working with numbers.
That is why the head coach of the Prince Albert Mintos says their work is not quite done in nailing down first place in the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League standings.
A 9-0 rout of the Beardy’s Blackhawks on Thursday at the Art Hauser Centre guaranteed the Mintos of home-ice advantage for as long as they are in the playoffs, but when Morrison worked out the numbers, there is one final hurdle that has to be cleared.
“If we lose our last four games and they (Saskatoon Contacts) win all of theirs, we are tied in points,” said Morrison after Thursday’s win disregarding the tie-breaker of Prince Albert having more wins and can’t be matched. “Being tied in points isn’t my idea of being in first.”
Using that as motivation, the Mintos will try and “officially” put the finishing touches on a third straight regular-season title when they host the Yorkton Harvest at 1:30 p.m. today at the Art Hauser Centre.
The Mintos, who are 32-6-2 on the season, are 18-1-1 at home this year with the only loss coming at the hands of the Harvest on Oct. 28. In fact, Yorkton has beaten Prince Albert in two out of three meetings this year so there is a little bit of pride at stake in today’s game.
With three games left on the schedule following today’s contest, the Mintos will try and stay focused on improving as a team while several players will be looking to add to individual statistics.
Team captain Jason Duret is just five points out of the league scoring lead as the third-year winger has 16 goals and 45 assists. Duret trails a pair of Contacts – Kolten Olynek and Vukie Mpofu – and will need an explosive finish to catch them. Regardless, Duret is having a career year and is by far and away the top playmaker in the league.
Lance Yaremchuk, who had two goals in the win over Beardy’s, leads the league in goals with 34 which is remarkable considering he had just 12 tallies in 43 games as a rookie last year.
Bryton Sayers is the runaway leader for points by a defenseman as the sophomore has 48 for the season, including 10 in his last three games. Sayers, who just turned 17 on Monday, had 29 points in his rookie season a year ago.
It is often said good goaltending takes teams far in the playoffs and the Mintos appear to have that position taken care of. Rookie Lane Michasiw, who recorded his third shutout of the season on Thursday, has the second lowest goals-against average in the league at 1.63 while Tanner Burgardt is fourth at 1.98. Both will be relied heavily upon as the Mintos look for their second provincial title in three years.
Prince Albert completes its home schedule on Tuesday with a game against the Battlefords Stars and then they take to the road next weekend for their final two games of the regular season with stops in Tisdale and Saskatoon to play the Trojans and Contacts on Saturday and Sunday, respectively.