For the second time in just over a week, the Prince Albert Mintos will be looking to sweep an opponent out of the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League playoffs when they host the Saskatoon Blazers tonight at 7 p.m. at the Art Hauser Centre.
The Mintos, the regular-season champions after winning 34 and tying three others in the 44-game schedule, eliminated the Notre Dame Argos in three straight games in the opening round and they are on the verge of doing the same with the Blazers after recording victories in the first two games of the best-of-five semifinal series.
Prince Albert needed three overtime periods in the first game against Saskatoon to pull out a 4-3 triumph, despite outshooting the Blazers 52-18, but in Saskatoon on Tuesday they took care of business in regulation time winning 4-1.
Saskatoon has managed just one win against Prince Albert this season with the Mintos having outscored the Blazers 14-6 in four regular-season meetings in addition to the 8-4 margin so far in the semifinal match-up.
Minto captain Jason Duret leads all playoff scorers with 10 points in five games while Lance Yaremchuk, the overtime hero in Game 1, is next with nine. The third member of the Mintos’ top line, Joel Blaquiere, has eight points, including five goals which ties him with Yaremchuk in that department.
Should Prince Albert complete the sweep tonight, they will get a few days off as the other semifinal series between the Saskatoon Contacts and Regina Pat Canadians has just gotten under way with the defending league champion Contacts holding on to a 1-0 victory in the opening game on Tuesday. That series resumes tonight with Game 2 to be played in Regina.
The Mintos will also advance to the league final for the third straight year if they get past the Blazers as Prince Albert won the title two years ago before falling in four games to the Contacts last season.
When Prince Albert went up against the Contacts a year ago they were a badly beaten group with several players missing games due to major injuries. In fact, they had to go to the Bantam AA Venice House Raiders for reinforcements.
The Mintos are once again battling the injury bug as the post-season continues with regulars Teal Sobkowicz, Kody White and Braxx George all missing Tuesday’s game and it is unclear if any will be ready to return to the line-up tonight.
Prince Albert has summoned several Midget AA affiliate players, including Josh Elliot, Blair MacFarlane, Chris Stubbs and Brody Senger, to fill in the roster and some of those could see action again tonight.
Off the ice, the Mintos are holding a major fundraiser with a major prize raffle in place thanks to the generous support of some of their sponsors. Tickets are $5 each or three for $10 and they will be on sale at tonight’s game. The draw for all the prizes will be held on Sunday.