Daily Herald Staff
The Prince Albert Mintos conclude the home portion of their Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League regular season this weekend with afternoon games Saturday and Sunday at the Art Hauser Centre.
The Mintos, who are in a battle for playoff positioning as the season enters its final two weeks, are more worried about player health than where they finish these days as a number of veteran players are in sick bay.
Defenseman Braden Lozinski is expected to miss the remainder of the regular schedule with a knee injury and forward Dakota Boutin could also be sidelined for the duration of the regular campaign as he recovers from a damaged shoulder. The situation is likely the same for defenseman Braxx George who was injured in Thursday’s 4-3 overtime loss to the Tisdale Trojans.
Forward Lance Yaremchuk might get the green light to play this weekend as he sat out Thursday’s game with a groin injury and Ryan Duret returned to the line-up against Tisdale after missing three weeks with a concussion.
Add to all of this, top defenseman Lochlan Morrison was on the sidelines on Thursday as he sat out a one-game league-imposed suspension following an incident in Tisdale last Saturday and Dalin Graham has been released by the team after the rookie forward failed to follow team rules.
Minto head coach Ken Morrison also missed Thursday’s game for a league-imposed suspension, but both father and son should be back with the team for Saturday’s game against the Moose Jaw Generals and on Sunday when Prince Albert hosts the Notre Dame Hounds. Both games start at 1:30 p.m.
Prince Albert has relied heavily on their affiliate player list this season and that trend will continue as they try and patch together a line-up to finish the regular season.
The Mintos enter the weekend in a third-place tie with the Generals meaning Saturday’s contest could determine who grabs at least the third seed for the upcoming playoffs.
Both Prince Albert and Moose Jaw trail the Notre Dame Argos and Battlefords Stars by four points, but with just five games left on the schedule moving up in the standings is becoming less likely.
Maintaining a Top Four position in order to have home-ice advantage for the first round of the playoffs is a more realistic goal and both the Mintos and Generals have to be wary of the Trojans, who are now just three points back and hold a game in hand.
Following this weekend’s action the Mintos will take to the road for their final three games with the season ending on Feb. 23 when Prince Albert travels to Saskatoon to take on the Contacts. The playoffs will begin immediately following the conclusion of the regular season.