Mintos race past Maulers

Jaxon Tait of the Prince Albert Mintos jumps past a falling Josh Bear during their Nov. 5 matchup at the Art Hauser Centre. (Peter Lozinski/Daily Herld)

The Prince Albert Mintos used their speed to their advantage again Sunday afternoon, beating the Yorkton Maulers in a physical contest that turned into a lopsided win.

The Mintos went into the game fresh off their Saturday 6-2 victory over the Maulers, a game where they challenged Yorkton’s defence with speed and a consistent attack.

The Maulers looked ready to take the Mintos down early Sunday. While they only mustered three shots on goal in the opening frame, the Yorkton squad took advantage of Mintos mistakes and opened the scoring on a deflected shot from just outside the faceoff circle.

Yorkton also dominated in puck possession for much of the frame, drawing a pair of undisciplined Mintos penalties and dictating the pace of play. Despite spending significant time in the attacking end, though, the Maulers struggled to get anything going offensively and failed to get shots through traffic to test goalie Cale Elder.

One of those penalties went to speedy forward Luke Nkwama, who was given the gate for a slashing minor.

But as his penalty expired, Jake Koroluk found Nkwama stepping out of the box. Nkwama beat a defender, faked forehand and slid the puck past Maulers goalie Dakota Berezowski to tie the game at one goal apiece. Parker Fofonoff also earned an assist on the play.

That seemed to spark the Mintos, who returned to the formula that made them successful the day before – speed and positioning backed up by a tight-checking defence.

It paid off. With seven minutes gone in the second, Josh Pillar won the faceoff cleanly to Turner Rea, who snapped the puck home for his first ever midget AAA goal.

Pillar also got involved in the second for his first goal of the game. With a Yorkton player in the box for holding, P.A. began to press. Just as the penalty expired and the Mauler stepped back onto the ice, Pillar jumped on a loose puck and snapped it in to increase the Mintos lead to 3-1. Nkwama and Dylan Scriven were awarded assists on the marker.

Prince Albert Mintos forward Kishaun Gervais lines up a shot as Josh Pillar looks on during Prince Albert’s 5-1 victory over Yorkton Sunday. (Peter Lozinski/Daily Herald)

Yorkton’s frustration began to grow. The two teams had been engaged in physical play all weekend. Saturday’s first period was punctuated by a large scrum and a fight that led to nine of ten skaters receiving misconducts, seven for ten minutes and two for the game.

Sunday afternoon, with about two and a half minutes to play in the second period, Yorkton Mauler Keanan Sperling was called for a cross-check in his own crease on a Mintos player. He received a five-minute major and a game misconduct for the crosscheck, giving the Mintos an extended powerplay.

Prince Albert was unable to score in the second, but in the third period, with 13 seconds left in the major penalty, Kishaun Gervais found a loose puck in front of the net and scored his team-leading 11th goal to increase the lead to 4-1. Fofonoff earned his second assist of the night on the Gervais goal.

The Mintos weren’t done there.

At the midway point of the period, Alex Moar sprung Kevin Ledoux and Pillar on a two-on-one chance. Ledoux fired a perfect pass along the ice to Pillar’s backhand. He flipped the puck past the right arm of Berezowski for his second goal of the game.

With a comfortable 5-1 lead, the Mintos let off the gas a little bit, dumping the puck into the offensive zone to kill off the clock.

Another Yorkton penalty gave the Mintos another chance to score, but Berezowski made several key saves to keep the game at 5-1.

Luke Nkwama prepares to take a shot Sunday against the Yorkton Maulers. (Peter Lozinski/Daily Herald)

That would be the final. Mintos goalie Cale Elder stopped 15 shots in the victory, making several key saves on breakaways and odd man rushes to preserve the Prince Albert victory.

Berezowski stopped 33 shots for his side, but made several nearly impossible desperation stops to limit the damage. He was named his team’s star of the game.

Pillar earned star honours for Prince Albert.

With the win, Prince Albert moves into a share of first in the leage with the Tisdale Trojans. Next, the Mintos hit the road to Notre Dame. They’ll face off against the unbeaten Notre Dame Hounds and the basement-dwelling Notre Dame Argos before returning to the Art Hauser Centre on Nov. 16 to take on the Battlefords Stars. Gametime in the Nov. 16 matchup is 7 p.m.

For more from the Mintos’ winning weekend, including reaction from both sides, please see the November 7 print or e-edition of the Daily Herald.