© Herald Photo by Dave Leaderhouse
Last week it was announced that Prince Albert Mintos rookie goaltender Connor Ingram was named the top netminder in the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League. Prior to Thursday's game at the Art Hauser Centre, Ingram, left, posed with the trophy alongside league president Lloyd Friesen.
The Prince Albert Mintos are being forced to pull another rabbit from their hat after a heartbreaking 3-2 double-overtime loss on Thursday has them down two games to none in a Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League semifinal series against the Battlefords Stars.
The Mintos, who also trailed the Tisdale Trojans by the same deficit before rallying to win in the opening round, were 1:17 away from evening the best-of-five series with the Stars, but playing a man short eventually caught up to them.
“It was tough with all the penalties – deserving or not,” said Mintos’ assistant coach Todd Becker in reference to the 12 power-play opportunities his club gave to the Battlefords. “Discipline did hurt us.”
Discipline, or a lack of it, was the culprit in the second overtime period as moments after the Stars killed off a penalty of their own they drew a power-play when they raced in two-on-one on the Prince Albert net and Minto forward Dakota Boutin was targeted for holding a Battlefords player in front of the goal.
Prince Albert’s Lochlan Morrison, who prior to the game was named the league’s top defenceman, protested the call and was given an unsportsmanlike penalty to put the Mintos down two men.
It took just 31 seconds after those calls for the Stars to capitalize as Spencer Bast’s shot from the point deflected off a Minto defender in front of the goal to secure the 3-2 victory and commanding lead in the series.
“Looking ahead it’s something the boys have been through before,” noted Becker. “We do need more effort out of more players.”
Bast had opened the scoring for the Battlefords on yet another power-play early in the second period, but Wyatt Grant got that one back before the middle frame was over and Jared Blaquiere, with his sixth of the post-season, gave Prince Albert its first lead of the series early in the final session.
It looked like the Mintos were going to even the series, but with goaltender Rylan Toth on the bench in favour of an extra attacker, Josh Bly banged home a loose puck to send the game into overtime.
“We weren’t working hard enough when it was six on five,” said Becker. “I don’t know if we were too tired or what, but we were doing a lot of watching.”
“We stood around and looked at the puck,” added Becker.
Prince Albert had numerous scoring chances in the first extra session, but couldn’t get one past Toth, who finished the game with 39 saves. The Mintos looked like they had lost their momentum when they came out for the second extra period and their nemesis all night – penalties – reared its ugly head to end the game.
MINTO NOTES: Connor Ingram finished the game with 40 saves in the Prince Albert goal…The Mintos were 2-for-6 with the man advantage…Jake Hobson and Erik Gardiner were dressed in place of the injured Braxx George and Carson Cayer, but neither saw much ice time…Prince Albert will try and get back in the series when it switches to the Battlefords on Saturday. Should the Mintos win that match the teams will return to the Art Hauser Centre on Monday…Notre Dame Argos lead the other semifinal series 1-0 after a 4-3 overtime triumph on Wednesday.