Stiff competition for 80 athletes at Mintos weekend training camp

Kristen
Kristen McEwen
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Competition at the Prince Albert Mintos’ fall training camp was tough this weekend, as the Midget-AAA hockey team sought out at least 10 players to complete their roster for the 2014-2015 season.

Prince Albert Mintos prospect Erik Gardiner, left, faces defenceman Loch Morrison during a drill at the Mintos fall training camp this weekend. Gardiner is the younger brother of the Prince Albert Raiders forward Reid Gardiner.

Humboldt’s Erik Gardiner was one of approximately 80 prospects at the camp, pushing through drills and scrimmages on Saturday and Sunday.

Hailing from a hockey family, Gardiner is the younger brother of Prince Albert Raiders forward Reid Gardiner.

“My brother plays for the Raiders, so he kind of taught me everything I know,” Gardiner said.

Saturday proved to be a long day for Gardiner as his scrimmage team played at 9 a.m., at 2 p.m. and again at 7 p.m.

“It’s been fun,” Gardiner said. “It’s been high paced. There (are) lots of good players here so I think it’ll be a good learning experience for me to play at this level.”

As his first year in the midget hockey league, Gardiner, 15, noted it was challenging facing athletes one and two years older than him.

“It’s a bit challenging,” Gardiner said. “A bit scary because they’re a lot bigger than me and weigh more than me, but I like it.”

Although this isn’t the first time Gardiner has played in the midget-AAA league. He played four games with the Mintos last season and scored one goal.  

“It was a really fun playing with the guys and they treated me well,” Gardiner said. “So it was a great experience.”

Gardiner said The Mintos’ call-up also helped performance with the Humboldt Broncos bantam team last season.

Shortly after playing with the Mintos, the Regina Pats selected him as their second round pick, 35th overall, in the 2014 WHL Bantam Draft in May.

Gardiner hopes to play with the Pats when he turns 16 years old next year. Until then, Gardiner has his sights set on the Mintos this season.

With his previous experience with the midget-AAA team, Gardiner has an idea of what the team was looking for at the training camp this weekend.

“This year, I know what level I have to be at,” Gardiner said.

For Mintos coach Ken Morrison and colleagues, it hasn’t been easy narrowing down the prospects.

“We’ve had a lot of quality players that are working hard,” Morrison said. “It makes it tough to decide.”

The amount of athletes were cut down to nearly half, as about 40 players went on to participate in the Black versus Gold scrimmage game at the Art Hauser Centre on Sunday afternoon.

According to Morrison, the final Mintos roster for this season will be announced in late-September.

kristen.mcewen@paherald.sk.ca

Organizations: Midget-AAA, Raiders, Art Hauser Centre

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