© Herald Photo by Dave Leaderhouse
Prince Albert Minto forward Ryan Duret tries to get control of the puck in the midst of a sea of Yorkton Harvest players during Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League action on Sunday at the Art Hauser Centre. Duret had a goal and an assist to lead the Mintos to their 10th straight win and sole possession of second place in the regular-season standings.
To say the Prince Albert Mintos are on a roll is a bit of an understatement.
Six weeks ago the perennial contenders were two games below .500 and things looked pretty bleak.
The Mintos won their final two games of October and then in November went 8-2-2 to gain some momentum and so far in December they have been unbeatable as they are 6-0-0 this month including 4-1 and 2-1 decisions over the Swift Current Legionnaires and Yorkton Harvest, respectively, on the weekend.
“I think our defence is starting to play well as a group,” acknowledged Mintos head coach Ken Morrison after the weekend sweep on home ice. “(Sunday) we played well in our own end and we hemmed them in down in their end to make it difficult for them.”
“With (Dakota) Boutin and (Lance) Yaremchuk out and AP’s (affiliate players) in we have to keep the other teams down to one goal and bang a couple in,” added Morrison in reference to two of his key offensive threats missing the weekend’s action.
Boutin, who joined the team in late November after being released by the Moose Jaw Generals, has missed the last six games with a concussion, but should be ready to play when the Mintos play their final pre-Christmas game on Thursday at 7 p.m. at the Art Hauser Centre against the Beardy’s Blackhawks.
Yaremchuk, a gifted scorer who has 20 points in just 11 games this year, missed the weekend tilts as he is back up with the Western Hockey League’s Prince Albert Raiders as that club battles through a player shortage due to injuries and the departures of Josh Morrissey and Leon Draisaitl for the world junior hockey championship.
While team defence has improved, having quality goaltending has also benefitted the Mintos as Connor Ingram was brilliant on Sunday in stopping 25 shots while on Saturday it was Lane Michasiw turning aside 17 blasts to record the win against Swift Current.
Ingram sits second in the league in goaltending statistics as the 16-year-old from Imperial, Sask., has a 1.81 goals-against average and .932 save percentage in 13 games. Michasiw, a 17-year-old from Saskatoon, is fifth with a 2.33 GAA and .916 save percentage in 15 games.
Sunday’s game was scoreless until Ryan Duret netted his 14th of the season late in the second period, but Yorkton evened the game at 1-1 early in the third when Corwin Stevely banged home a rebound while the Harvest were on a two-man advantage.
Minto captain Teal Sobkowicz collected his 14th of the season while Prince Albert was on a power-play of its own with just under six minutes to play to provide the margin of victory.
On Saturday, Keegan Kjargaard and Wyatt Grant had scored early goals for the Mintos with Dalin Graham and Kody White tallying in the final five minutes to lead Prince Albert past the Legionnaires.
MINTO NOTES: The weekend wins give Prince Albert 10 in a row and extends their unbeaten streak to 12 games…The Mintos are now in sole possession of second place and trail just the Notre Dame Argos in the standings. Notre Dame held a slim one-point lead following the Minto win over Yorkton, but the Argo-Moose Jaw Generals game was still in progress. The Argos also hold two games in hand on Prince Albert…The Mintos are once again the stingiest team in the league having allowed just 59 goals in 28 games. Moose Jaw is also at that mark, but have played three fewer games…With Boutin and Yaremchuk out of the line-up the Mintos brought up Jake Hobson from the bantam Venice House Raiders and Austin Odnokon from the midget Dmyterko Enterprises Raiders on Saturday while on Sunday it was Hobson and Erik Gardiner, a bantam-aged forward from Humboldt…Thursday’s game is Food Bank Night with all fans asked to bring a non-perishable item to the game. All donations will then be turned over to the Prince Albert Food Bank to help out with the Christmas programs that group has in place…The Mintos will leave Christmas Day for Calgary for the annual Mac’s Invitational tournament with their first game slated for early on Boxing Day.