A well rested Prince Albert Mintos squad could find themselves in third place in the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League standings when they return to action on Sunday.
The Mintos, who have been idle for 10 days since winning their 14th straight game on Jan. 9, host the Notre Dame Argos at 1:30 p.m. at the Art Hauser Centre in a game that has very strong implications as to where they will finish in the final standings.
When Prince Albert began its break they were comfortably in first place, but both the Argos and Battlefords Stars had several games in hand. Those two clubs have made good use of the games as Notre Dame entered the weekend tied with the Mintos while the Stars had won five straight to sneak to within one point of the frontrunners.
That was before Notre Dame visited Tisdale and the Battlefords played Beardy’s on Saturday. Should the Argos and Stars both win those games they will move ahead of Prince Albert leaving the Mintos in third place with just a dozen games left on the schedule.
Therefore, Sunday’s game is a showdown for first place and with the Battlefords coming to Prince Albert on Thursday to complete the Mintos’ six-game homestand, the schedule doesn’t get any easier.
Prince Albert and Notre Dame have met three times this year with the Argos winning the first two meetings and the Mintos prevailing in the last encounter. The Mintos, who have not lost a game since Nov. 16, have not seen the Argos since they began their current streak, which includes 15 wins and a tie in their last 16 games.
While the break came at an opportune time for the Mintos as they never had any time off during Christmas due to their participating in the Mac’s Invitational tournament in Calgary, not all of the players were away from the game.
Forward Keegan Kjargaard was called up for one game by the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League’s Nipawin Hawks last week and scored a goal in his debut while rookie netminder Connor Ingram also got introduced to the SJHL as he served as the Flin Flon Bombers’ back-up on the weekend.
Kjargaard and Ingram are the latest Mintos to see some junior hockey action this year as Braxx George dressed for a pair of games with the Melfort Mustangs in December and Ryan Duret was in the Estevan Bruins’ lineup alongside his brother Jason earlier in the season.
Following the games against the Argos and Stars the Mintos take to the road for four straight contests. Having won the regular-season banner the last three years and gaining home-ice advantage to lead them to three straight league finals, the Mintos have their work cut out for them to repeat those performances. Winning 14 straight is impressive, but by the looks of things it is going to have to go much higher to accomplish their goal of finishing first.