It is something that was expected and highly anticipated and now it is official: the Prince Albert Mintos and Saskatoon Contacts will once again meet in the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League championship series.
It will be the third straight year the two rivals have squared off in the final series with Prince Albert having won in three straight games two years ago while the Contacts took advantage of an injury-riddled Minto team to claim the title in four games last season.
Prince Albert, which won the regular-season banner this year with a 34-7-3-0 record, will host the opener of the best-of-five final on Thursday at 7 p.m. at the Art Hauser Centre with the series switching to Saskatoon on Sunday for a 3 p.m. contest at the Schroh Arena. Game 3 will return to the AHC on Mar. 25 with subsequent games, if necessary, slated for Mar. 27 in Saskatoon and Mar. 29 in Prince Albert.
Both Prince Albert and Saskatoon have been flawless in getting to this point as the Mintos swept both the Notre Dame Argos and Saskatoon Blazers while the Contacts have done the same to the Battlefords Stars and Regina Pat Canadians.
Prince Albert boasts the top three scorers in the post-season with Jason Duret and Lance Yaremchuk each having 12 points while Joel Blaquiere has 10. Rodney Southam leads the Contacts in the playoffs with eight points.
Prince Albert Raider prospect, Rylan Parenteau, has been the key for the Contacts as the 16-year-old netminder has a 1.06 goals-against average, including a pair of shutouts, in playing every minute between the pipes for Saskatoon during the playoffs.
The Mintos’ 16-year-old rookie goalie, Lane Michasiw, is close behind at 1.12, but he has played in just three of the six games so far.
The Contacts, who finished seven points back of Prince Albert in the regular season, won the first meeting of the year, but the Mintos captured the next two and the two clubs then battled to a 2-2 draw in the final game of the regular schedule.
The winner of the series will move on to the Telus Cup western regionals in Kenora, Ont., at the start of April with the winner of that event moving on to the Telus Cup national tournament in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., later on in April.