They used an extra period of play and a shootout, but the Prince Albert Mintos kept their perfect record intact as they beat the visiting Regina Pat Canadians 3-2 in Midget AAA hockey Saturday evening at the Art Hauser Centre.
The Mintos won thanks to consistent defence, reliable goaltending from Cale Elder and a multi-point night from defenceman Alex Moar.
The 16-year-old Moar had two goals and one assist, including the shootout winner for his team.
“I was just trying to go low blocker or at least make a move,” Moar said of his winning goal.
As he skated down on Regina goalie Nathan Moore, the defenceman put on a quick deke move, forcing Moore to go one way, while he went the other to Moore’s blocker side to score what was the winner.
With the night’s win, the Mintos are now 5-0 and sit in first place in the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League. They’re one point ahead of the Tisdale Trojans, who have nine points.
Moar credited his team and his coaches with the Mintos’ early season success. “We’re doing good; we’re keeping positive out there on the bench,” he said.
That optimism was evident Saturday night: The Pat Canadians showed a tendency for chirping at and antagonizing the Mintos players after the whistle; the home side chose to skate away from the verbal jabs.
Equally important was the Mintos’ goaltending.
Elder stopped 32 of the 34 total shots he faced. Several of those were deft glove saves where the shooter was left alone or one-on-one with a Mintos defender, and Elder saw the puck the whole way through.
On one first-period play, the Mintos turned over the puck to a Regina skater who was left alone in the mid-circle area to Elder’s right side. After the skater’s quick wrist shot, Elder promptly used his blocker to turn the puck away into the corner.
The goaltender credited his teammates with their defensive play as part of his success.
“We worked hard. Guys on our team really helped me out, kept shots clear so I could see them all. It was good just to stay focused and work through it,” he said.
Regina started the game on fire, out-hitting and out-shooting Prince Albert, while the Mintos kept the same pace as their opponents. But they could only muster four shots on net in the frame.
Regina notched 11 shots after the first period, and they went up 1-0.
Part of the Pat Canadians’ early success was due to their stingy defence. Throughout the period, Regina’s defenders kept the Mintos entirely away from Moore and their slot area, forcing the host team shoot from the perimeter.
But the Mintos doubled down in the second period, increasing their shot count to 14 and tying the game at 1-1 with 1:52 to go in the frame. Dylan Scriven scored a backhand goal to the left side of Moore. Kade McMillen and Moar assisted.
Then at 6:56 in the third period, Moar scored his first goal to earn a 2-1 lead for his side.
He waited and circled for an open shooting lane from the top of the circle. Then, he pulled the trigger on a laser wrist shot that nicked the underside of Moore’s crossbar and found the back of Regina’s net.
“Once I saw (the opening), I just shot it. I knew where it was going,” he said of the goal. Josh Pillar and Austin Lamotte assisted Moar on the goal.
Regina’s Matthew Culling then managed to tie the game at 2-2 almost three minutes later.
The Mintos’ penalty kill managed to withstand the remaining chances that Regina found in regulation time, including two late powerplays, thanks to penalties from Kishaun Gervais and Josh Pillar, logged at 16:24 and 19:01, respectively.
A quick, fast-paced overtime solved nothing for the teams, leading each to the shootout and the Elder-Moar triumph that earned their team the win.
The Mintos’ next game is at home on Oct. 14 against the Saskatoon Blazers.