The Prince Albert Mintos overcame a rusty first period and a physical Battlefords Stars team to earn a 5-2 win Thursday evening in Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League action from the Art Hauser Centre.
Powered by a quick goal from Tanner Robin and double-goal performances from a pair of rookie skaters, the Mintos marked their twelfth win of the year with the victory.
The game was a rescheduled match from the two teams’ original contest set for a week prior on Nov. 16 in P.A.; that game was cancelled due to dangerous highway conditions between North Battleford and Prince Albert.
Prior to Thursday, the Mintos’ last game was on Nov. 12 against the Notre Dame Argos, 11 days ago.
The team showed some signs of rust and sluggishness through the first period, according to head coach Ken Morrison and forward Parker Fofonoff.
But they managed to push through that, despite being down one skater.
At 10:57 of the second period, Tanner Robin scored what would be the game winning goal, putting his side up 3-0.
“(Fofonoff) just shot (the puck) in there. I grabbed it, and tried to get a shot through and it got blocked; and I happened to be in the right spot at the right time.
“I shot through a screen, and I didn’t think it was best shot in world, but I just got it off quick and hard, and it was fortunate enough to go in the net.”
Fellow linemate Kishaun Gervais assisted on the goal, too.
Still, the Stars stayed in the game, managing two short-handed goals to keep it interesting. Adam Beckman scored the first towards the end of the second period, and Ian Hillis scored the second at 8:06 of the third period.
The Stars also used their hard checking to stay in the game.
“They’re a physical team. They don’t let up; they finish every single check,” Robin said.
“They play a pretty simple game – they’re chipping it out, out of their zone, then they chip it right in, and they’re shooting pucks constantly at the net.
“I thought we adapted pretty early. We had a shaky start, but I thought we picked it up.”
The game was also marked by a Josh Pillar penalty shot, one that he handily put home on a deke move that forced Stars goalie Joseph Young down early. That was in addition to Pillar’s first period goal.
In the game’s final six minutes, Kishaun Gervais instigated a fight with Stars defenceman Trey Stoker behind Young’s net while the Mintos were on a powerplay and up 5-2.
It was a move that Morrison didn’t agree with.
“The fight is not good. We’re on a powerplay, and we get sucked into that … he’s going to need stitches probably. I don’t know about a suspension, but we can’t really afford to lose a player like that for very long,” the coach said.
Gervais had two assists on the night, and was instrumental in helping cycle the puck in the Stars’ zone, a point that Morrison emphasized.
“That’s what we’re trying to get him to do – to play a team game and to move the puck. He’s really skilled and we don’t want to put a damper on his skill, but he still has to make smart decisions, and so he’s learning that.”
He highlighted Fofonoff’s second goal, which Gervais initiated. “That one play where we did get the goal, that all started with him making a good play and moving the puck. So I was proud of him for that.”
The Mintos coach also gave a nod to 16-year-old goalie Carter Woodside, who made his seventh start of the year.
“His confidence is starting to grow; you can see it in practice and he’s had a couple good games.”
That puts the team in a position where the coaches are confident going with either Woodside or Cale Elder to start games, he said.
Of his seven starts, Woodside has five wins and two losses, with 0.89 save percentage and a 2.26 goals against average.
With the win, the Mintos (12-2-2-0) now sit in fourth place in the 12-team provincial league, one point back of the Notre Dame Hounds (13-1-0-1).
Their next game is on the road against the Regina Pat Canadians on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. CST. After that, they travel to Wilcox on Sunday to take on the Argos at 1:30 p.m.