Daily Herald Staff
The Prince Albert Mintos are going to try and avoid a fate similar to that of the Saskatoon Blades last year when they host the Tisdale Trojans in a Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League quarter-final match-up tonight at 7 p.m. at the Art Hauser Centre.
One year ago the Blades were swept in the opening round of the Western Hockey League playoffs and then had to wait 59 days before returning to the ice as hosts of the MasterCard Memorial Cup.
While the Mintos wouldn’t have to wait that long, a loss tonight would mean they would be on the sidelines for 29 days before hosting the Western Regional midget playoff during the first week of April.
The Mintos enter tonight’s game trailing the Trojans two games to none after falling 3-2 in the opener at home on Friday and 2-1 in Game 2 in Tisdale on Sunday. In total, the Mintos have dropped four straight to the Trojans as Tisdale swept a home-and-home series at the start of February.
In Prince Albert’s defence they have been battling the injury bug for most of the season and just prior to the start of the series got three key players – Lance Yaremchuk, Braden Lozinski and Dakota Boutin – back in the line-up after prolonged absences. While Yaremchuk and Boutin have two of Prince Albert’s three goals in the series there has to be an adjustment period to get back into game shape, but that time has now expired as there is no tomorrow – for a month at least - should the Mintos lose in any of the next three games.
The return of Yaremchuk, Boutin and Lozinski leaves just Braxx George in sick bay and with the Minto roster down to 19 players following the release of Dalin Graham, there are two spots that can be filled and it is expected that members of the Midget AA Dmyterko Enterprises Raiders will be available to help out since their season came to an end on Friday.
A Prince Albert win tonight will send the series back to Tisdale on Thursday and if a fifth and deciding game is needed it will be played on Sunday at 1:30 p.m. at the Art Hauser Centre.
In other action from around the league all three of the other quarter-final matches were in action on Tuesday with the Saskatoon Contacts, Moose Jaw Generals and Yorkton Harvest facing a similar scenario as the Mintos.
Moose Jaw, who will be hosting the Telus Cup national championship in April, hung on to see another day as they edged the Regina Pat Canadians 3-2 in overtime while the two-time defending champion Contacts were eliminated with a 6-3 loss to the Battlefords Stars. The league-leading Notre Dame Argos also booked a ticket to the semifinals with a sweep of Yorkton.