© Herald photo by Perry Bergson
Prince Albert Mintos forward Dakota Boutin scored in triple overtime on Sunday to beat the Grenadiers de Chateauguay at Mosaic Place in Moose Jaw as the Mintos won their third national midget title in nine years. He is shown on Monday afternoon shortly after the team arrived back in Prince Albert.
They were a few seconds of Dakota Boutin’s life that he will remember for a long, long time.
More than 108 minutes into the Telus Cup final on Sunday, the Moosomin product watched the start of a play that would earn him a place in Hockey Canada history.
It started with a blocked shot at the Prince Albert Mintos blue-line, deep into the third overtime against the Grenadiers de Châteauguay.
“When the shot was blocked, my first thought was to go down the ice,” the right winger said. “Someone’s going to have the puck. Jared (Blaquiere) blocked that shot, (Braden) Lozinski chipped it off the wall past the defenceman and I saw me and Lance (Yaremchuk) on that two-on-one. All I could think about was our goal. It was going to go in the back of the net. I know Lance can get me the puck or he can score if he wanted to.
“When I saw him pass that puck and saw that wide open net, there were so many things running through my head then.”
“The puck landed flat on the ice. He passed it right before their defenceman’s stick and I one-timed it.”
The shot went past Grenadiers goalie Étienne Montpetit into the open net, ending the longest game in Telus Cup history at 108 minutes and 36 seconds.
Boutin says he remembered a wild celebration at the 2010 Olympics and put it into action.
“I had one thought and that was watching Sidney Crosby score that golden goal. My first thought was to thrown my gloves up like that and drop my stick and get my helmet off, just like that goal.”
It was a fascinating turn of events for Boutin, whose season began as a member of the Telus Cup host Moose Jaw Generals. Things weren’t going well this season so he sought his release.
“I asked to leave,” he told the Moose Jaw Times Herald’s Katie Brickman last week. “I just wasn’t having fun and I just didn’t like my situation. I just wanted out so I could go have some fun.
“Last year was good. At the end, I just wanted to go home. This year, I had a few more expectations with being a year older. It just didn’t happen.”
In his rookie season last year, Boutin put up eight goals and 11 assists in 35 games.
Before leaving the Generals in mid-November, he had put up eight goals and five assists in 11 games. He knew where he hoped to land, with the fact that the Mintos were hosting the Western Regionals playing into his decision.
“Prince Albert has always been a good team,” he says. “I was going to come here my first year but Moose Jaw is a little closer to home so I thought that I would give it a chance there. But then when I left, Prince Albert was my first option. They called me right away, and Prince Albert being the great team that it is, there was no question.”
It proved to be a momentous week in November for the Mintos, when Boutin came on board and Yaremchuk chose to rejoin the team after losing his spot on the Prince Albert Raiders.
The two became linemates and eventually potted the Telus Cup winner together.
In 13 regular season games with the Mintos, Boutin scored five times and added eight assists. In eight playoff games, he scored twice and had seven assists.
In the Western Regionals he had a goal and an assist in four games while in Telus Cup play he had three goals and three assists in seven games.
It was a nice rebound after the early season uncertainty for Boutin, who was selected 50th overall in the 2012 WHL Bantam Draft by the Brandon Wheat Kings.
After a tough start to the season that had the Mintos briefly in last place in the 12-team league, things began to come together for the team as the season went on.
A mid-season undefeated streak of 16 games put them up in the top three and had an important effect on the team, Boutin says.
“Right then we started to feel pretty comfortable with our game. (It took) just a few more tweaks and adjustments to that we could be the top team in Canada.”
There would be a few bumps along the road.
The Mintos went down two games in the best-of-five opening round playoff series and 3-0 in game three before rebounding to beat the Tisdale Trojans.
The Battlefords Stars made short work of them in the second round, sweeping them in three games and giving them 19 days to prepare for the Western Regionals.
It was there that Boutin says the team rounded into form.
“At Westerns we kind of found our peak,” he says. “We knew how we needed to play to beat those top-end teams.”
After edging the Notre Dame Argos 4-3 to advance to the Telus Cup, a new challenge lay ahead.
“We went in there not having any expectations not knowing any of the teams,” the 6’0”, 180-pound forward says. “After we came out of the first game with a 4-1 victory, we got a lot of confidence. We knew we could play with anybody.”
As the week went on, he says the tension grew.
“The pressure sure built,” he admits. “Going through the round-robin, there wasn’t too much pressure, just play your game. Once we secured a spot in the playoffs the pressure kind of hit. We knew just one more game and we would be playing for a national championship.”
He says the stress grew for the nationally televised final, something partially helped by the huge turnout of Prince Albert fans who made the 360-km drive.
The Quebec champs scored a few minutes into the first period but Boutin says it didn’t rattle the bench.
“We’re not a team that gets down and we’re not a team that gets too high when we’re doing good so we just kept our level and played our game.”
They were up 3-2 deep in the third period when the Mintos took a penalty.
When the Grenadiers tied it 3-3 on the ensuing powerplay with five minutes left, he says nothing changed. The team’s mood was fine.
The Mintos dominated play for big parts of the rest of the game, something he attributed to the team’s conditioning and their depth.
“It’s big when you have four lines that can all play. They only had two so it kept our guys fresh.”
In the end, that was enough.
“It was just hard work and discipline,” he says. “We don’t have a bunch of pretty boys and danglers; it’s all a bunch of guys with a lot of heart and hard work. When we did that, we got the job done.”
Boutin, who turns 17 on July 3, says his goal next season is to crack the Wheat Kings lineup. He played a game with the Melfort Mustangs of the SJHL this season so he may have other options for next year if he chooses not to return to midget.
But for now, all of that lies ahead. Instead, he remains focused on the teammates with whom he won the Telus Cup.
“It was an unbelievable feeling. We have the best group of guys on this team. I wouldn’t have wanted to share this with any other guys.”