Daily Herald Staff
The Prince Albert Mintos will be looking to put the finishing touches on a strong first half of the season when they host the Beardy’s Blackhawks in Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League action Thursday at 7 p.m. at the Art Hauser Centre.
The Mintos are the hottest team in the league right now having won 10 straight and they have not suffered a loss in regulation time since Nov. 16, a streak that is now 12 games in length.
While the recent success has been a just reward for a lot of hard work, the Mintos can’t sit back and be satisfied as they have to continue to keep winning to keep pace with the league-leading Notre Dame Argos.
The Argos moved four points ahead of the second-place Mintos on Tuesday when they outscored the lowly Saskatoon Blazers 6-1. Notre Dame also holds a game in hand on Prince Albert.
Also lurking right being the Mintos are the Battlefords Stars, who trail Prince Albert by just three points and have two games in hand. Those games will be accounted for this weekend when the Stars head to Regina for a doubleheader against the Pat Canadians.
Thursday’s game is Prince Albert’s last before they take a break for the Christmas holidays and to get in the festive mood the match has been deemed Food Bank Night. All fans are asked to bring a non-perishable food item to the contest with all proceeds being turned over to the Prince Albert Food Bank.
The Mintos, who have beaten Beardy’s in both previous contests this year, are expected to have Dakota Boutin back in the line-up as the 16-year-old forward from Moosomin has missed the last five games due to a concussion. Boutin played all of last year and the start of this season with the Moose Jaw Generals before being released and picked up by Prince Albert. In seven games with the Mintos, Boutin has three goals and three assists to add some much-needed offence to the club.
It is unclear if Lance Yaremchuk will be playing with Prince Albert tonight as the 17-year-old forward has split the season between the Mintos and the Western Hockey League’s Prince Albert Raiders. Yaremchuk was reassigned by the Raiders in mid-November and in 11 games with the Mintos has 20 points, but he has been back with the Raiders for the past week as that club has had to endure a depleted roster due to injuries and the departure of defenceman Josh Morrissey and forward Leon Draisaitl to the world junior hockey championship.
The Raiders are on their Christmas break right now and Yaremchuk is slated to be with the team when they resume play on Dec. 27. That commitment means Yaremchuk will not be available to compete at the annual Mac’s Invitational tournament in Calgary over the holidays. The Mintos play their first game at the event on Boxing Day.
Aside from the trip to Calgary, the Mintos are in the midst of a nine-game homestand as they will not take to the road for a league game until Jan. 25. Prince Albert, which has the stingiest defence in the league having allowed just 59 goals in 28 games, will look to exploit a Beardy’s team that has given up 111 goals in 24 matches. The Mintos will, however, have to be wary of the Blackhawks as they only won by one goal in their last meeting and Beardy’s is coming off their biggest offensive outburst when they shelled the Swift Current Legionnaires 9-3 on Sunday.