© Times-Herald Photo by Matthew Gourlie
Halifax McDonald's goalie Justin Ritcey stops Ryan Duret from the Prince Albert Mintos in clean during Telus Cup action Friday in Moose Jaw.
MOOSE JAW – In what really was billed as a meaningless game, the Prince Albert Mintos decided to give it some importance and in the process established a new Telus Cup record.
Already guaranteed a spot in Saturday’s semifinals following their 2-0 win on Thursday over the host Moose Jaw Generals, the Mintos took advantage of a surprising 11-2 Toronto Young Nationals loss to the Okanagan Rockets in Friday’s early game to grab first place in the preliminary round-robin with a convincing 3-0 triumph over the Halifax McDonald’s.
A Toronto win would have given them top spot, but the loss opened the door for the Mintos and they took advantage of it.
“Our first goal was to make the playoffs,” said Mintos’ head coach Ken Morrison, who was back behind the bench on Friday after sitting out one match due to a suspension he received following Wednesday’s draw with the Rockets. “Now that we did that, for today’s (Friday) game we realized we had to set one a little higher and get first place.”
“Obviously, the next one is important,” added Morrison.
The Mintos, who finished the round-robin with a 3-0-2 record, will now take on the Rockets in one of the semifinal contests today. The other semifinal will have the Grenadiers de Chateauguay taking on the Young Nationals.
“We’re going to have to be at the top of our game,” said Morrison. “We’ve been playing good as a team and if we do make a mistake our goaltenders have been outstanding, which is really important.”
Lane Michasiw and Connor Ingram have been more than outstanding – they have been almost perfect. Michasiw, who struggled at the start of the post-season and only saw action in three of 12 playoff games before the Telus Cup, picked up his second straight shutout with the win on Friday. Michasiw has two wins and a tie in his three starts here and his goals-against average in the tournament is a sparkling 0.33.
Ingram has also been amazing allowing just one goal in each of his two appearances. Ingram is expected to be the starting netminder today and should the Mintos be successful in getting to the gold-medal game on Sunday the 16-year-old from Imperial will undoubtedly be between the pipes then too. Ingram, the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League’s top goaltender this year, has been the go-to-guy in the playoffs including the Western Regional-clinching victory over the Notre Dame Argos three weeks ago in Prince Albert.
“We’ve been working really hard on our defensive game,” said Morrison. “We know we aren’t going to score a lot of goals so we work really hard in our end.”
Against Halifax on Friday, the Mintos played probably their best game of the tournament and should have had at least half a dozen other goals.
Kody White, in the first period, and Teal Sobkowicz and Jared Blaquiere in the final 20 minutes provided the offence with the shutout allowing the Mintos to etch their names in the Telus Cup record books. Prior to this year the fewest number of goals allowed by a team in the round-robin portion of the tournament was four – set in 2007 by the Red Deer Rebels. That standard is now three as the Mintos have not allowed more than one goal in any match and have gone 126 minutes and 40 seconds since the opposition last scored a goal.
Today’s semifinal against Okanagan, which starts at 2 p.m., will be interesting as Morrison was upset with some of the actions by a Rockets’ player at the end of their preliminary meeting on Wednesday.
“I really didn’t think I said anything that would get me suspended,” said Morrison, “I was just choked about the sucker punch at the end (of the game).”
The Rockets could quite easily be the No. 1 seed following the round-robin as they finished with a 1-1-3 record with their only loss coming against Halifax, a game that saw them blow a three-goal lead going into the third period.
Moose Jaw and Halifax were eliminated from further play following the round-robin and today’s semifinal winners will meet in the gold-medal game at 3 p.m. on Sunday while the losers will square off in the bronze-medal contest at 11 a.m. on Sunday.