Daily Herald Staff
If everything goes according to plan, the Prince Albert Mintos should be in first place in the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League at the end of the weekend.
The Mintos, who trail the league-leading Notre Dame Argos by just two points, host the Regina Pat Canadians Saturday at 7 p.m. and then entertain the Saskatoon Blazers on Sunday at 1:30 p.m. Both games are at the Art Hauser Centre.
The Mintos-Pat Canadians game is the lone contest on the schedule Saturday and on Sunday there is just a Regina-Beardy’s tilt in addition to the Blazers coming to Prince Albert.
Therefore, with the Argos being idle, Prince Albert can move to the top of the league although Notre Dame will have four games in hand after this weekend’s action.
Prince Albert, which is returning to league action after going 1-2-1 at the Mac’s Invitational tournament in Calgary over the Christmas holidays, enters this weekend on an 11-game winning streak with points in their last 13 games.
The Mintos have faced the sixth-place Pat Canadians three times this year with each club winning once and another match ending in a 2-2 tie. Against the Blazers, who are just two points out of the league’s basement, Prince Albert has a tie and a win.
It is unclear if the Mintos will have their full line-up for the weekend as 17-year-old centre Lance Yaremchuk has been called up by the Western Hockey League’s Prince Albert Raiders over the holiday season to help that club fill a vacancy created by several players attending various international tournaments.
Yaremchuk, who has 20 points in just 12 games with the Mintos, started the year with the Raiders before being reassigned to Midget AAA. The speedy forward missed a pair of Minto games before the break and was unavailable to travel to Calgary with the team due to his replacement role with the Raiders. Yaremchuk was in the Raider line-up on Friday against the Lethbridge Hurricanes and with several of the departed players expected back in Prince Albert by early next week, Yaremchuk could be available for this weekend’s action.
In his absence, a trio of veterans have led the Mintos in scoring as captain Teal Sobkowicz has 14 goals and 16 assists while Ryan Duret is one point back at 14-15-29. Keegan Kjargaard is also having a strong season with 12 goals and 16 assists.
Another player who has found the mark of late is rookie forward Josh Roberts. In 18 games before the break Roberts had just two assists, but in his final two games at the Mac’s tournament the 16-year-old from Star City had three goals and one helper.
Defensively, the Mintos lead the league having allowed just 61 goals in 29 games with both netminders – Lane Michasiw and Connor Ingram – among the top four in the 12-team circuit. Ingram, a 16-year-old rookie, has a sparkling 1.75 GAA in 14 games while Michasiw, a 17-year-old sophomore, has a 2.40 GAA in 15 starts.
This weekend’s doubleheader is the middle portion of a nine-game homestand for the Mintos as their next road game is not until Jan. 25. Prince Albert will host the Saskatoon Contacts on Thursday followed by what most certainly will be a first-place showdown against the Argos on Jan. 19. The Mintos conclude the lengthy stay at home with a game against the Battlefords Stars on Jan. 23.