For the first two months of the season Lance Yaremchuk watched a lot of hockey.
The last four weeks has been a different story for the 17-year-old centre and it is only going to get busier as Yaremchuk pulls a double shift with the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League’s Mintos and the Prince Albert Raiders of the Western Hockey League.
“The second period I was dying there a bit,” admitted Yaremchuk moments after scoring twice and setting up two others in a 4-3 Minto win over the Saskatoon Contacts on Thursday at the Art Hauser Centre.
Yaremchuk, who started the season with the Raiders, but saw most of the action from the press box, was back up with the major junior club on Wednesday before returning to the Mintos on Thursday. He will be back in the Raider line-up tonight when Prince Albert hosts the Kamloops Blazers and again on Sunday when the Kelowna Rockets make their only visit of the season to the Art Hauser Centre. Yaremchuk says he will also dress for the Raiders on Tuesday against the Moose Jaw Warriors.
Yaremchuk’s services are required by the Raiders as that club has incurred a rash of injuries of late and now have their top two players away for almost a month as Josh Morrissey is trying out for Team Canada while Leon Draisaitl leaves this weekend to represent Germany at the world junior hockey championship.
“Me and Kenny (Mintos’ head coach Ken Morrison) are just taking it day by day,” says Yaremchuk. “For sure I’m playing all the Raider games and I’m not playing in the Yorkton game (against the Mintos on Sunday). I’m not sure what’s happening against Swift Current (Saturday against the Mintos.)”
Yaremchuk’s return to the Mintos in mid-November has coincided with a 10-game unbeaten streak that includes eight straight victories. Thursday’s game was a vintage duo between the Mintos and Contacts, who have met in the last three league finals with Saskatoon claiming the championship the last two years.
In nine games with the Raiders Yaremchuk had one goal and two assists while in 11 games with the Mintos he has 11 goals and 10 assists. His four-point night on Thursday gives him eight points just this week with the Mintos as Yaremchuk collected a hat-trick and an assist in a 6-2 Prince Albert win over the Saskatoon Blazers on Tuesday.
“To be honest, I’m just shooting the puck from anywhere on the ice when I get it,” says Yaremchuk in trying to explain his recent offensive outburst. “I learned a lot of things when I was with the Raiders. Its great hockey here, but in the Dub the speed and intensity is higher.”
Yaremchuk used his speed all night on Thursday to keep the Contacts on their toes.
Wade Kehoe opened the scoring for Saskatoon, but Teal Sobkowicz would tie it on a setup from Yaremchuk before the first period ended.
Yaremchuk then put Prince Albert ahead early in the second period with a short-handed effort, but Jordan Walls evened the scored again before Yaremchuk and Brayden Uhrich exchanged unassisted goals later in the middle session. Sobkowicz netted the eventual game winner with nine-tenths of a second left on the clock in the middle frame with Yaremchuk winning the face-off back to defenseman Lochlan Morrison, who’s shot on net was banged in by the Minto captain. Morrison finished the game with a pair of helpers.
There were numerous scoring opportunities in the final 20 minutes, but Connor Ingram in the Prince Albert net and Brock Hamm for Saskatoon both closed the door. Ingram finished with 35 saves while Hamm was tested 23 times. Ingram is second in the league in goals-against average at 1.81 and his save percentage of .932 is third best.
MINTO NOTES: The Mintos, who improve to 16-6-4-0, remain in third place in the league standings just one point back of the second-place Battlefords Stars and five in arrears of the Notre Dame Argos…Defenceman Braden Lozinski was ejected from the game midway through the second period for a checking-from-behind penalty. The rookie Minto defenceman will be eligible to return to the line-up for Saturday’s game against Swift Current…The Mintos were without newcomer Dakota Boutin for the third straight game. Boutin, who was injured in Yorkton almost two weeks ago, might be back on Saturday. In his place, the Mintos inserted 15-year-old Keegan Tiringer from Leoville…Thursday’s game was Prince Albert’s first of nine straight on home ice as they don’t take to the road again for a league game until Jan. 25. They will, however, be in Calgary over the holidays for the annual Mac’s Invitational tournament…After this weekend’s doubleheader, the Mintos close their pre-Christmas portion of the schedule on Thursday with a game against the Beardy’s Blackhawks. The Mintos are asking all fans to bring a non-perishable food item to the game as it is Food Bank Night with all donations going to the Prince Albert Food Bank.