Despite coming back twice from two-goal deficits, the Prince Albert Mintos couldn’t complete the comeback Saturday.
In a matinee affair at the Art Hauser Centre, the Mintos suffered their second straight loss in Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League play as they dropped a 6-5 thriller to the defending Telus Cup champion Notre Dame Hounds.
“I really thought we were going to win that one, especially with how hard we played and the chances that we had,” Mintos head coach Ken Morrison said. “Their goalie (Thomas Wardle) kept them in it and we didn’t get the big saves when we needed them, but for whatever reason we found out a way to make mental errors that made the difference in the game.
“We should have had that fourth goal and then we made a mental error on their fifth goal where we pinched and gave them a two-on-one. We came back from that and the game was right there for the taking, which makes things frustrating for everyone.”
The Mintos’ still had a chance to tie the game up again late in the third period, but were forced to go on the penalty kill with 2:25 left when Logan Cox was called for kneeing.
“No one even saw that play on our bench so we’re not sure where it happened,” explained Morrison, who would receive a bench penalty and a game misconduct 10 seconds later.
“The ref thought I was yelling at him (during a stoppage) and he ended up kicking me out.”
After a scoreless opening frame, the Mintos took the lead just 1:06 into the second period as Turner McMillen banged home a rebound.
The Hounds tied the game up a few minutes later on a penalty shot goal from Coalson Wolford and took the lead near the midway point of the period on a breakaway play by Kyle Bocheck.
Drew Englot gave the visitors a two-goal lead on the power play with 3:52 left in the frame, but that cushion would only last for 85 seconds as Ashton Ferster and Andrew Schaab both found the net for the Mintos to tie the game.
Just 39 seconds after the hosts evened up the contest, Brendan Kerr slide a shot through the five-hole of Mintos netminder Spencer Welke to put the Hounds back in front, which also ended the afternoon for Welke as he was pulled in favour of Carter Woodside.
The Hounds doubled up the lead with 23 seconds remaining in the second stanza, as Josselin Dufey gave the visitors a 5-3 lead after 40 minutes.
“We need to tighten up and play our system on defence and not just do our own thing,” Morrison said.
“We revert to playing pond hockey sometimes, which is what happened on the fifth goal. The puck was lying in the slot, we made a pinch and we ended up giving up a two-on-one rush.”
The Mintos clawed their way back once again in the third period, as Gabe Klassen scored just 15 seconds into the frame and Dawson Springer evened up the game with 11:54 left on the clock.
Thomas Dodds would officially end any comeback attempts with 4:58 to go as his power play marker gave the Hounds their second win in a row.
“You never want to give up leads like we did, but I thought the guys did a great job in responding to that challenge,” Hounds head coach Devan Praught said. “We had a short bench due to injuries and then we had a player kicked out (Dominick Campione for a checking from behind penalty), but our guys worked through those issues.
“We only have four returning players from last year so everyone’s still getting used to one another. We’ve had some highs and lows here, but I think we’re moving in the right direction.”
Kerr, Dufey and Dodds had a goal and an assist each for the Hounds, who have a 9-4-1-2 record and currently lead the Moose Jaw Generals by five points in the race for the eighth and final playoff spot in the standings.
Wardle turned aside 23 shots to help his team earn the win.
Alex Ozar and Alex Von Sprecken each had three helpers for the Mintos, while Springer and Klassen had a goal and an assist each.
Welke made 12 saves in 38 minutes of work, while Woodside stopped nine shots over the final 22 minutes.
Next up for the Mintos, who fell to 11-7-1-0 and remain tied with the Beardy’s Blackhawks for fifth place in the standings, is a 5 p.m. road game Sunday against the Saskatoon Blazers.
The team will be without forwards Cohner Saleski and Ethan Ironside for that contest, as they are both currently sidelined with ankle issues.
“Cohner ended up rolling his ankle playing floor hockey with the Special Olympics,” Morrison said. “It’s swollen at the moment and it’s in a cast, but he didn’t break anything.
“Ethan’s been dealing with an ankle infection all week and he’s in a lot of pain. We both decided to let it heel up as the ankle would have been in worse shape had he played today.”