A rash of injuries to veteran players resulted in the Prince Albert Mintos icing a predominately rookie squad in a Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League pre-season tilt on Friday against the Saskatoon Contacts.
And, despite a spirited effort, the Mintos could not find the back of the net enough as they fell 3-1 to the defending league champions and in the process saw their pre-season record fall to 1-4.
Prince Albert will have one final exhibition game, on Sunday at 1:30 p.m. at the Art Hauser Centre against the Beardy’s Blackhawks, before final cuts will need to be made prior to the start of the regular schedule next weekend.
Not dressed for the Mintos on Friday due to injury were Zach Paziuk (shoulder), Ryan Duret (foot) and Kody White (foot). Newcomer Carson Cayer is also on the sidelines after suffering a broken jaw while at the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League’s Yorkton Terriers training camp.
Due to those absences, players still fighting for a spot on the Telus Cup western regional host Minto squad were given another opportunity to show what they can bring to the team and some of those rose to the occasion.
Rhys Kipling and Braden Lozinski, a pair of efficient defensemen, and Josh Roberts, a speedy winger, were three who stood out, but it was veteran Keegan Kjargaard who had the lone goal for the Mintos.
Kjargaard opened the scoring midway through the first period, but that was all the offence the Mintos could muster as Saskatoon evened the score 46 seconds later on a Brayden Uhrich tally and then sealed the win with a pair of goals by Kade Kehoe late in the final frame.
Lane Michasiw faced 33 shots in the Minto goal while Brock Hamm was tested 32 times in the Saskatoon net.
While the Mintos have plenty of new faces in their line-up the same can be said about the Contacts as the two-time defending league champs were decimated by graduation and key players moving on to the Western Hockey League and Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League. One familiar name on the roster, however, was Garrett Pilon, the son of former Prince Albert Raider defenseman Richard Pilon.
Following Sunday’s game against Beardy’s the Mintos will trim down their roster by as many as five players and get ready for the season opener next Saturday against the Moose Jaw Generals at the Art Hauser Centre.
The return of defenseman Lochlan Morrison earlier this week appears to be the only player returning from a WHL camp as last years leading scorer Lance Yaremchuk is still with the Prince Albert Raiders and defenseman of the year Bryton Sayers has made the roster of the Lethbridge Hurricanes. Cody Young has also moved on to play with the SJHL’s Kindersley Klippers.