Daily Herald Staff
The Prince Albert Mintos will not finish first in the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League for a fourth straight season.
That became official on Thursday when they lost 5-3 in the Battlefords against the Stars and the Notre Dame Argos hung on for a 4-3 victory over the Hounds in Wilcox.
The loss to the Stars also puts Prince Albert in jeopardy of claiming the second seed for the playoffs as the Battlefords are now two points up with two games in hand and with the Mintos having just two games left on the regular schedule they are going to need some help to gain that coveted spot.
Finishing third is also questionable as the Moose Jaw Generals are just two points back with two games in hand, but if the Mintos can take anything from their performance on Thursday they know once they get healthy they will be able to compete with anyone.
Once again the Mintos were without four key regulars as Lance Yaremchuk, Dakota Boutin, Braden Lozinski and Braxx George were all sidelined with injuries. Jake Hobson and Keegan Tiringer were summoned from the affiliate list to help fill the void, but Prince Albert was still three players short and that eventually played a factor in the outcome against the Stars.
Carson Cayer had Prince Albert’s lone goal in the opening period while Jared Blaquiere and Brody Reimer scored in the middle session to keep the game close, but a shorthanded empty-net goal in the final minute sealed the win for the Battlefords, who also win the season series against the Mintos 2-1-1.
Connor Ingram started the game in the Prince Albert net, but was pulled after the Battlefords’ fourth goal early in the second period. Lane Michasiw came on in relief and stopped all 13 shots he faced.
The Mintos will finish out the season next week with games in Saskatoon on Tuesday against the Blazers and Thursday against the Contacts. Prince Albert is going to need to win both of those games and hope for some help from others to secure the third seed for the playoffs. One more win, however, should at least get them home-ice advantage for the opening round, but with everyone having so many games in hand, there is still a lot left to be settled.
Getting healthy is paramount and that is where the Mintos will have to put their focus for the final week of the regular season.