The Prince Albert Mintos are turning in some of their best performances of the season at the right time.
Following a weekend sweep of the Notre Dame Argos at the Art Hauser Centre, the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League team is enjoying their second longest win streak of the year with five straight triumphs, which is one victory off a six-game run they put together in October.
Their recent run of success also has the Mintos just two points away from clinching a playoff spot, which they can lock up with a win against the Battlefords Stars Tuesday night at the North Battleford Civic Centre.
“We’re finally playing a full 60 minutes,” Mintos forward Dawson Springer said. “There’s been nights where we were strong for 40 minutes, but then we wouldn’t be playing our game for a period.
“Everyone’s putting all that they have out there on the ice and everyone’s stepping up to help the team get wins.”
According to Mintos head coach Ken Morrison, a dramatic comeback win against the Notre Dame Hounds in Wilcox on Jan. 20 set the stage for the team’s recent success.
“We had a tough 2-0 victory over the Argos there the day before, but to come back from being down 4-0 to beat the Argos in overtime was a real confidence booster for us,” Morrison said.
“We’re learning to do the little things right, such as moving the puck out quicker instead of hanging on to it. It’s been a total team performance.”
Sunday’s 8-1 effort against the Argos was a testament to the team depth, as four players recorded three-point afternoons.
Springer and Gabe Klassen had two goals and an assist each, Gavin Ingram scored a goal and set up two others, while Andrew Schaab dished out three helpers.
“Gabe and Dawson are two guys that can shoot the puck and they’ve really taken advantage of their chances lately,” Morrison said.
“A guy like Gavin is really effective when it comes to killing penalties and he’s been chipping for us on offence here and there. His work ethic is always high, but he’s really turned things up here in the second half.”
Blake Duquette, Alex Von Sprecken and Chase Freidt-Mohr also scored for the 21-15-2-0 Mintos, who split goaltending duties between Spencer Welke and affiliate player Joel Favreau Sunday.
Favreau, who played for the Prince Albert Dairy Queen Chill Midget AA program, is filling in for Carter Woodside after he was called up by the Regina Pats.
The Argos, who are in 11th place in the SMAAAHL standings with an 8-26-2-1 record, got their lone goal from Jackson Edwards and received a 33-save performance from Cedric Rechsteiner.
Saturday’s contest between the two sides was a more dramatic affair, as Klassen tied the game up at three with 1:51 to go in regulation, which set the stage for Springer’s winner in the third round of the shootout.
“As I was coming down the ice, their goalie (Ruben Cooper) was giving me the blocker side and I just took my chances,” Springer said.
“We didn’t come out ready to go against the Argos Saturday, so we were pretty fired up to have a better showing in the rematch.”
Klassen led the offence with a goal and an assist, while Jake Huska and Chase Bertholet also scored in regulation.
Jacob Robinson paced the offence for the Argos with a goal and an assist, with teammates Kevin Anderson and Bryce Thomson also finding the back of the net.
Welke turned aside 21 shots to earn the win, while Cooper made 39 saves in a losing effort.
As the Mintos begin a five-game road trip Tuesday, they are currently tied for fifth place in the league standings with the Hounds and two points back of the Swift Current Legionnaires, though both teams have a pair of games in hand.
After their meeting with the Stars, the Mintos will take on the Hounds Saturday before facing the Legionnaires Sunday.
They will then visit the Yorkton Maulers on Saturday, Feb. 16 and the Regina Pat Canadians on Sunday, Feb. 17 before their regular season finale at home against the Saskatoon Blazers on Sunday, Feb. 24.