© Herald Photo by Perry Bergson
Prince Albert Mintos goaltender Connor Ingram squares up to make a save during second period midget AAA playoff action against the Tisdale Trojans at the Art Hauser Centre on Wednesday evening. Mintos defencemen Brody Reimer (#5 on the left) and Matthew Parsons (obscured) guard the net while Trojans forward Drew Litwin can be seen looking for a rebound.
Prince Albert Mintos’ head coach Ken Morrison could have drawn up a million game plans for the do-or-die situation his club faced on Wednesday, but the way things unfolded to start the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League quarter-final match wasn’t one of them.
“I was surprised the way we came out,” admitted Morrison just moments after his troops rallied for a dramatic 4-3 come-from-behind victory over the Tisdale Trojans and forced a Game 4 tonight in Tisdale. “I really felt we were ready to play.”
The night started off on a positive note when rookie netminder Connor Ingram was called to centre ice to receive the league’s top goaltender award along with his player of the month honour from November.
The next 20 minutes were anything but positive as the Trojans stormed to a 3-0 advantage on goals by Cole McBride, Prince Albert product Drew Warkentine and Tyler Olson. For McBride it was his third straight goal for the Trojans as he notched both Tisdale markers in Sunday’s 2-1 triumph.
“I just told them all we needed was one and go from there,” said Morrison of his talk in between periods. “Now isn’t the time to go crazy on them.”
Lance Yaremchuk got Prince Albert pointed in the right direction when the speedy centre made a couple of nifty moves in tight and got the Mintos on the board just over four minutes into the middle frame.
Ryan Duret pulled Prince Albert to within one 85 seconds later and 30 seconds after that Jared Blaquiere banged in a nice feed from Yaremchuk to get things all square at 3-3.
After a fairly conservative third period by both teams it took just 56 seconds into overtime for Dakota Boutin to complete the comeback. Boutin and Keegan Kjargaard broke into the Tisdale zone two-on-one and Boutin used his teammate as a decoy before rifling a high shot that Trojan netminder Brandon Holtby got a piece of, but could only watch as the puck dropped into the net behind him.
Now that the series has a different feel to it, Morrison is confident for tonight’s tilt even though they still trail two games to one in the best-of-five affair.
“I think all the pressure is on them now,” said Morrison. “We’ve been selling that to the boys since the last loss. Win one and we can come back and win this.”
MINTO NOTES: Ingram, who made 19 saves on Wednesday, was given the league award for posting a 1.98 goals-against average and .928 save percentage in 23 games during the regular season…Prince Albert finished with 27 shots on Holtby…Just three minor penalties were called in the game…The Mintos had just 17 players for the game as Braxx George and Carson Cayer were not dressed due to various ailments…Should the Mintos win tonight a fifth and deciding game will be played on Sunday at 1:30 p.m. at the Art Hauser Centre…The Notre Dame Argos and Battlefords Stars have already advanced to the next round after sweeping the Yorkton Harvest and Saskatoon Contacts, respectively. The Regina Pat Canadians lead the Moose Jaw Generals 2-1 in the other quarter-final…The Minto organization has more than an elimination game on their minds tonight as team president Zenon Markowsky fell ill and was rushed to the hospital during Wednesday’s game. The team, fans and players all hope for a speedy recovery.