The Prince Albert Mintos started their 2017-18 regular season with a bang, winning their first two games over the weekend by a combined score of 10-3.
On Saturday afternoon, the team opened its season against the Swift Current Legionnaires, just north of Saskatoon in Warman, where the Midget AAA league held its annual showcase of the province’s teams.
The two sides skated to a 6-2 win for P.A., thanks in part to five different players scoring for the Mintos. The next day – also in Warman – the Mintos beat the Moose Jaw Generals 4-1, with four different skaters each scoring for the win.
“I thought we had a good effort and everyone contributed in their own way,” Mintos head coach Ken Morrison said of the weekend wins.
“In the Swift Current game, we worked hard and were effective on the forecheck. Guys were getting in on the puck and the body quickly. The whole team was giving a good effort,” he said.
The Mintos grabbed the lead on an Alex Moar powerplay goal at 4:11 of the first period, during which the Legionnaires were down to three skaters against Prince Albert’s five: Swift Current’s Owen Ozar and Christian Riemer took back-to-back cross-checking penalties within two minutes of each other.
That led to the Mintos’ second powerplay goal 45 seconds later, courtesy of Parker Fofonoff.
Swift Current played catch-up for the rest of game, never tying or advancing past the Mintos on the scoreboard.
The Legionnaires got on the board late in the second period and once early the third period – Jerzy Orchard and Rin Beny were credited with the goals.
Jaden Mayer, Luke Nkwama and Hunter Schnell scored in the second (Mayer) and third (Nkwama and Schnell) periods to keep their side ahead in the game. Moar netted a second powerplay goal with one second to go in the game, putting his side ahead 6-2 for the win.
As for the Moose Jaw game on Saturday, Morrison said he didn’t like the way his team started the game.
“For whatever reasons, it looked like we came out tentative and a bit nervous,” he said. “Our goalie (Cale Elder) had to come up with a couple of big saves.”
After the first period, the score was tied 1-1, with goals from Schnell for Prince Albert and Cal Caragata on the powerplay for the Generals.
The Mintos regained the lead in the second period, after an even-strength Fofonoff goal less than two minutes in at 1:51 of the frame.
“In the second and third periods, we took the game over,” Morrison said.
Early in the third period, the Mintos’ Kishaun Gervais scored a powerplay goal for his side, putting the team up 3-1.
And with 58 seconds remaining, Nkwama scored an empty net goal – after Moose Jaw pulled its goalie – sealing the victory 4-1.
Morrison noted how the team didn’t have a lot of time leading up to the weekend to practice and implement play systems the coaches had drawn up.
Those included defensive zone coverage, defensive faceoffs, forechecking and powerplay and penalty kill strategies.
“I thought they implemented those systems well,” considering the short prep time, he said.
The Mintos will next play the Saskatoon Blazers on Thursday night on the road. The team’s home opener is Friday evening at 7 p.m. at the Art Hauser Centre against the Saskatoon Contacts.