Prince Albert Mintos forward Carson Cayer takes a shot on Beardy's Blackhawks goalie Kyler Rahier in SMAAAHL action at the Art Hauser Centre on Thursday. The Mintos extended their winning streak to 11 games, defeating the Blackhawks 3-2, outshooting their opponent 41-22. Herald photo by Andrew Schopp
The Prince Albert Mintos remain red hot, securing their 11th straight victory, defeating the Beardy's Blackhawks 3-2 on Thursday at the Art Hauser Centre.
From the opening faceoff on, there was no indication the Prince Albert Mintos were going to lose Thursday's tilt as long as they kept their feet on the gas.
Despite a slowdown in momentum in the second period, Mintos coach Ken Morrison agreed his team did a good job of sticking to the game plan, pouring the shots on net, outshooting the Blackhawks 41-22.
"We felt confident that if we kept going the way we were, getting lots of shots, sooner or later one will go in," Morrison said of at one point being down 2-1 to the Blackhawks. "We just wanted to get traffic at the net and make it difficult for (the goalie) to see it. We got one that way and then it's a 2-2 game and they lose their momentum then it's just a matter of time until we got the third."
The Mintos stormed out of the gate with an air of confidence any team riding a 10-game win streak should possess, outshooting the Blackhawks 16-5 in the first period.
Blackhawks backstop Kyle Rahier did all he could to keep the Mintos off the board until Keegan Kjargaard eventually broke through, deflecting a Matthew Parsons shot from the point into the net to give the Mintos a 1-0 lead going into the second period.
Morrison was impressed with Rahier's play, but knew that as the Mintos poured the shots on net, sooner or later they would go in.
"Their goalie played well," Morrison said of Rahier. "He made some good saves, but we had some guys with really good chances that just didn't bear down to put them (Blackhawks) away early. It could have been a different game but that's just the way it goes. I was just happy with the way we stuck with it and pulled it out."
The Mintos offensive onslaught continued in the second period, peppering shots on Rahier, who was finally backed by some offensive support when Blackhawks forward Colton Iron tied things up, beating Mintos goalie Lane Michasiw with wrist shot midway through the second frame.
While the first 30 minutes of action showed no signs of slowing down for the Mintos, the Blackhawks clamped down defensively in the second half of the middle frame, taking a surprising 2-1 lead with two minutes remaining in the period with a goal from a Prince Albert native, forward Reid Gunville.
Although their pace had slowed down significantly since the first period, the Mintos evened things up just under six minutes into the third period with a Parsons marker on the power play to tie the game at twos.
Shortly after the officials denied the Mintos a go-ahead goal, a screened Rahier lost sight of the puck, allowing rookie Jared Blaquiere to slip the game winner between the goalie's legs with two and a half minute to go.
With about 20 seconds remaining, Blackhawks coach Dale Grayston gave Rahier the yank for the extra-man. While the Blackhawks successfully held the puck in the Mintos zone in the game's final seconds, Michasiw stopped a series of weak shots to keep the Mintos win streak intact.
Morrison attributed the Mintos impressive streak to a number of factors, including the addition of forward Lance Yaremchuk to the lineup, after he was reassigned by the WHL's Prince Albert Raiders on Nov. 16.
"We are just taking it game by game," Morrison said of the Mintos 13-game unbeaten streak. "We started putting a few wins together and then we got Yaremchuk and Dakota Boutin, that gave us a boost, we got rolling from there. Playing game by game and pretty soon you look back and it's 11 in a row."
With Thursday's win, the Mintos improve to 19-6-4-0 and come within two points of the league-leading Notre Dame Argos.
"The guys know there are no easy games in this league, beating the Beardy's 3-2, it could have gone either way tonight," Morrison said. "They've learned that they can't take a game off."
Thursday's tilt with the Blackhawks was the Mintos last before their Christmas break. The Mintos will be back in action on Jan. 14 when they take on the Regina Pat Canadians at the Art Hauser Centre.
MINTO NOTES: Mintos forward Dakota Boutin was back in the lineup on Thursday after missing fives due to a concussion ... Since being re-assigned to the Mintos by the Raiders, Yaremchuk has scored 21 points in 12 games, tallying an assist against the Blackhawks on Thursday ... The Blackhawks have four Prince Albert natives on their roster in Adam Hergott, Bryson Aistine, Reed Gunville and Daylin Smallchild. The Tisdale Trojans are the only other team in the league (other than the Mintos) with a P.A. native on their roster in Drew Warkentine … The Mintos lead the league in fewest goals allowed with 61 … The Mintos will leave Christmas Day for Calgary for the annual Mac’s Invitational tournament with their first game scheduled on Boxing Day. Due to his commitment to the WHL Prince Albert Raiders, Yaremchuk will not be available to compete in the tournament ... The Mintos possess the league’s best road record of 10-4-1-0 …