Mintos top Stars in goalie duel; face Contacts on Thursday
After netting a combined 10 goals in their previous match, scoring was scarce for the Prince Albert Mintos and Battlefords Stars during Tuesday night’s rematch.
Kyrell Sopoytk scored his league-leading 32nd goal and goalie Cale Elder turned away 30 shots to defeat the Stars 1-0 at the North Battleford Civic Centre.
“It was a goalie duel for sure,” Mintos manager Don Fauchoux said.
“(The Stars) are playing out the season and they’re having their last little hope of making the playoffs and they put in a good effort and it took all we had just to hang in there for a 1-0 victory.”
Sopotyk notched the game-winner less than five minutes into the opening period. The rookie forward has been making his way up league standings recently. Since racking up 11 goals and three assists in his last eight games Sopotyk is now tied for eighth in league scoring with 41 points in 37 games.
“It’s amazing how he continues to find the back of the net,” Fauchoux said.
After Sopotyk’s tally the goaltending was perfect. P.A.’s Elder registered his fourth shutout in his rookie season and Battlefords goalie Lance Alm stopped 31 shots and was perfect on five power play attempts. Elder and Alm were both named the stars of the game.
Elder now has five wins in his last five appearances dating back to Jan. 27, allowing only four goals during that run for a 0.966 save percentage and a 0.800 goals against average.
“Elder’s playing solid right now. He’s seeing the puck very well and he’s making all the saves,” said Fauchoux, adding that “age is not really a factor” when it comes to first-year players making a strong impression.
“It’s all talent and hard work and some of these young guys are exceptional players.”
The Mintos are now riding a five-game winning streak heading into Thursday night’s game against the Saskatoon Contacts. The Mintos have outscored their opponents 23-5 during that stretch.
In the Contacts the Mintos are facing the team directly ahead of them in the standings. This is the fourth and final time this season that the two teams will face off. The Mintos and Contacts split their fist two matches and P.A. was the winner of the teams’ most recent engagement, a 4-3 shootout win.
With the SMAAAHL season now in its final month, Fauchoux said it’s looking increasingly likely that the Mintos and Contacts will finish in fourth and fifth place in the standings and meet in the first round of the playoffs.
“We’re creeping up a little closer to them,” he said.
“They lost a big game (Tuesday) night to Tisdale and (Thursday) goes a long way as to if we even get a little closer or even momentum going into what probably is a first-round matchup.”
The Mintos take on the Contacts in Saskatoon on Thursday at 8 p.m.
Prince Albert 1, Battlefords 0
- Prince Albert, Sopotyk 32 (Lamotte, Matechuk) 4:05
Goalies: Prince Albert — Cale Elder, 30 saves (W, 12-5-0); Battlefords — Lance Alm, 31 saves (L, 10-19-0).
Stars of the Game: Home Star — Lance Alm, Away Star — Cale Elder.
Tale of the Tape:
On Feb. 9 the Prince Albert Mintos travel to Saskatoon to take on the Contacts for the last time this season. P.A. leads the season series 2-1.
Record: Prince Albert — 23-15-0-1; Saskatoon — 24-11-0-4
Last 10: Prince Albert — 8-2-0-0; Saskatoon — 5-3-0-2
Top scorers: Prince Albert — Logan Barlage (64 points); Saskatoon — Quinton Ong (52 points)
Goals for/against: Prince Albert — 136/104; Saskatoon — 159/116
Last meeting: Logan Barlage and Cael Zimmerman scored on the shootout to lead the Mintos to a 4-3 victory over the Contacts at the Art Hauser Centre on Jan. 19, 2017.