Mintos storm into Telus Cup with 4-1 triumph over Young Nationals

Matthew Gourlie
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Prince Albert Mintos goalie Connor Ingram stops Steven Harland from the Toronto Young Nationals on a second period breakaway in the opening game at the Telus Cup national midget AAA hockey tournament at Mosaic Place in Moose Jaw. Times-Herald photo by Matthew Gourlie


Dakota Boutin has scored a lot of goals in Mosaic Place. 

Monday's was his favourite so far.

The former Moose Jaw General scored the first goal of the Telus Cup and then set up the second as his Prince Albert Mintos opened the midget AAA national championships with a 4-1 win over the Toronto Young Nationals.

"It's always good to get the first goal, especially in a place where I played just a few months ago," said Boutin who spent the first half of the season in Moose Jaw. "I felt really comfortable. I know the ice. I know all the bounces. I was pretty excited to come back and play in front of everybody."

Special teams were the story as three of the fives goals were scored on the power play. The Mintos was 2-for-10 with the man advantage and the Nationals were 1-for-8.

"I thought we were a little bit slugging. I didn't think we played great," said Toronto head coach Brett Punchard. "I don't think we engaged in the battle enough and what happens is the score is 4-1."

Boutin got the Mintos on the board when he was able to cut to the net uncontested and beat Izzy Benigno on a wrap-around midway through the first period.

The Mintos doubled their lead when Lance Yaremchuk was left alone in front to bury his own rebound 30 seconds into Prince Albert's first power play of the night.

The Mintos bowed out in the second round of the Sask. Midget AAA Hockey League playoffs, but earned a trip to the Telus Cup by winning the Western Regional at home.

"It's always important to get a win right off the bat. The guys gain confidence and realize that they can compete at this level," said Mintos head coach Ken Morrison. "We know all of the teams are good and we'll have to be on top of our game every game if we want to have a chance."

The Mintos had a chance to bury the Nationals later in the opening frame, Benigno made a couple of big stops as Toronto killed off a 5-on-3 Mintos power play that lasted 1:35.

"We got a lot of power play chances and we put the puck in the net a few times," said Mintos goalie Connor Ingram who made 30 saves in the win. "I think our speed really dominated. A lot of guys were able to bust out wide and it's tough to handle those guys. We have a lot of deceiving speed on our team."

Ingram made some big saves when the score was still 2-0. He went post-to-post late in the first period to deny Kaelan O'Flynn's power play attempt. Ingram later stopped Steven Harland on a breakaway and popped up to deny Marco Bozzo's rebound attempt.

The Nationals capitalized on their sixth power play chance when Mac Graham buried a rebound at the side of the net on a 5-on-3 power play. 

After failing to find the mark on six straight power play chances, the Mintos' man advantage restored their two-goal lead when Keegan Kjargaard scored with 2:07 left in the second period.

"We gave them trouble when we got the puck down low and were able to cycle a bit," said Morrison. "We got a couple, but I was wondering if that third one was ever going to come. We finally got it and that was a big one."

Mintos captain Teal Sobkowicz scored on a breakaway 1:02 into the third period to ice the game.

The Mintos were able to dictate the pace in the early stages of the game and carried that forward in the win.

"(Matthew Parsons and Loch Morrison) on the back end were great for them. We couldn't do much against them," said Punchard. "We need more guys going into the battle. We need to get pucks deep in order to win. We had a lot of turnovers at the blue line with no speed. You're not going to win that way."

Benigno made 34 saves for the Nationals.

Though Monday's opening goal was Boutin's favourite, he hoping to displace it from his person best-of list.

"Hopefully I score against Moose Jaw, that would be the best one," said Boutin, who was named the Mintos' game MVP.

The win is the Mintos 15th straight at the Telus Cup. They went unbeaten on title runs in 2006 and 2007. They've never lost a game at the tournament away from home.

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