© Herald Photo by Dave Leaderhouse
Prince Albert Minto defenceman Matthew Parsons clears the front of the net while goaltender Connor Ingram fights to keep the puck out during Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League action on Thursday. Ingram was solid in stopping all 35 shots for a rare 1-0 overtime victory over the Saskatoon Contacts.
It isn’t often that a game lives up to its billing, but the Prince Albert Mintos-Saskatoon Contacts match on Thursday certainly did.
Finalists in each of the last three Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League seasons, the Mintos and Contacts went toe-to-toe at the Art Hauser Centre on Thursday and when they battled through three scoreless periods of regulation time, a little bit of extra time was needed to settle the outcome.
“It’s gonna get tougher as we go on here,” said Mintos’ head coach Ken Morrison moments after Lance Yaremchuk had tallied the winning marker just 34 seconds into overtime. “It’s one thing to get to first place, but it’s another to stay there.”
“They played well,” added Morrison. “That’s the best I have seen them (Contacts) play this season.”
The win was Prince Albert’s 14th in a row and extended their unbeaten streak to 16 games. Coupled with the Notre Dame Argos’ 7-4 loss in Regina to the Pat Canadians on Thursday, the Mintos are now four points clear of the second-place Argos although Notre Dame still holds three games in hand.
Thursday’s game had all the makings of a playoff match-up as the checking was tight and the goaltending was sharp. Connor Ingram stopped all 35 shots in the Prince Albert net to pick up his second shutout of the season while Brock Hamm turned aside 24 blasts in the Saskatoon net.
Ingram now shares the league lead in goals-against-average at 1.59 with the Contacts other netminder, Declan Hobbs. The 16-year-old Ingram is also just points behind Hobbs in save percentage with Ingram posting a .941 mark in 16 starts while Hobbs is at .946 in 10 games played.
The Mintos will now have a 10-day break before they return to action on Jan. 19 when they will face the Argos in a first-place showdown at the Art Hauser Centre. Morrison says the team deserves the break especially since they played a lot of hockey over the Christmas holidays when they attended the Mac’s Invitational tournament in Calgary.
“It’s going to be good,” said Morrison. “The guys deserve the break. We’ll come back on Sunday and skate hard for a couple of days and get ready for the next game.”
MINTO NOTES: Prince Albert played its third straight game without defenceman Lochlan Morrison who remains with the Western Hockey League’s Calgary Hitmen after being called up by the team when the Mintos were eliminated from the Mac’s tournament on Dec. 30. Morrison, who has one assist in six games with the Hitmen, will be in the line-up tonight when Calgary plays in Regina against the Pats. A decision on where he will spend the rest of the season will be made following the game…Filling in for Morrison was 16-year-old Bryce Fiske…Yaremchuk’s goal was his 14th of the season in just his 15th game with the Mintos. The speedy centre also has 14 assists…Prince Albert has won all three meetings with the Contacts, who remain in seventh place in the league standings. The Mintos and Contacts will square off one more time with that game coming on the final night of the season on Feb. 20.