It’s early in the season and alarm bells are far from sounding, but the Prince Albert Mintos have to be just a bit concerned about the lack of goal production so far this year.
Aside from last Saturday’s 1-0 loss to the Moose Jaw Generals in their only regular-season game to date, Prince Albert managed to score just 14 times in six pre-season contests with eight of those coming in one game alone – an 8-3 triumph over the Tisdale Trojans.
The Mintos were limited to just one goal in all four of their exhibition losses and tallied just twice more in their other pre-season victory.
The Mintos will be looking to put all of that behind them this weekend as they host both Notre Dame clubs in a weekend doubleheader with the Hounds providing the opposition on Saturday at 7 p.m. and the Argos paying a visit on Sunday at 1:30 p.m. Both games are at the Art Hauser Centre.
Prince Albert knew goal production was going to be a concern prior to this season as all seven of their top scorers from last year have moved on to other levels of hockey.
Jason Duret is with the Camrose Kodiaks of the Alberta Junior Hockey League, Lance Yaremchuk is with the Prince Albert Raiders of the Western Hockey League, Bryton Sayers is with the WHL’s Lethbridge Hurricanes, Justin Boyer is with the Melfort Mustangs of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League, Joel Blaquiere has graduated from the midget ranks and Adam Osczevski and Kylar Hope have both joined the West Kelowna Warriors of the British Columbia Junior Hockey League.
That leaves Ryan Duret and Lochlan Morrison as the top two returning players with Duret having missed most of training camp due to a foot injury and Morrison was also late in rejoining the team after an extended stay at the WHL’s Calgary Hitmen camp.
Prince Albert has also had to start the year without Cody Young who has made the lineup of the Kindersley Klippers of the SJHL and Zach Paziuk is out for another two weeks with a shoulder injury. Newcomer Carson Cayer has also been on the sidelines since suffering a broken jaw during a tryout with the Yorkton Terriers of the SJHL.
That means the Mintos, who are noticeably younger and inexperienced, have had to fill in the lineup with affiliate players to start the year. During the season opener the club brought up Austin Odnokon and Jack Green and it is expected those two will fill similar roles this weekend.
While offense has been an issue, keeping the puck out of their own goal hasn’t been a worry as second-year netminder Lane Michasiw was brilliant in turning aside 37 shots in the game against Moose Jaw. Michasiw will likely get the start against the Hounds on Saturday, but rookie Connor Ingram could see his first action against the Argos.
Prince Albert will be looking for a strong performance this weekend to get some much-needed confidence as following the games against Notre Dame the Mintos take to the road for five of their next six matches beginning next weekend in Regina and Moose Jaw.