The Prince Albert Mintos overcame a rough, physical game and an inconsistent second period to beat the Notre Dame Argos 7-2 on Sunday afternoon, earning its sixth-straight win.
The provincial Midget AAA boys hockey team was led by a combination of rookie and veteran skaters for the win, outshooting its opponent 44-14.
Rookies Josh Pillar, Dylan Scriven, Parker Fofonoff, Alex Ozar and Hunter Schnell combined for 11 total points, including two-goal games by Pillar and Scriven.
Meanwhile, second-year players Austin Lamotte, Tanner Robin and Kade McMillen combined for seven points on the day to round out the Mintos’ scoring. Robin also had a two-goal game.
The team again had to contend with the absences of Alex Moar, Kyrell Sopotyk and Kishaun Gervais from the lineup.
“(The rookies) are learning, they’re doing well. They’re learning what it takes to play the right way,” head coach Ken Morrison said.
“It’s not always about scoring and getting points. Those guys need to contribute defensively, and just do the right things and not cost us goals by making bad plays. They’re learning to make the right plays at the right time. It’s a learning curve and they’re proving themselves.”
Prince Albert skated to a 3-1 lead after the first period, during which it pressured the Argos on the forecheck and through the neutral zone. Robin and Scriven (two times) powered their team to the early lead, each scoring within the first ten minutes of the game.
Argos defenceman Hardy Wagner scored a lucky goal late in the period, after his point shot bounced off, over and behind Mintos goalie Cale Elder – who lost sight of it – into the open net behind him.
The Argos defence tightened their play in the second period, keeping the P.A. club off the score sheet and reducing the Mintos’ shot count from 17 to 8.
Notre Dame also cut its deficit to one, after Keaton Sorensen scored a two-man advantage, powerplay goal at 6:07 of the period.
“I thought other than the first 10 minutes of the second period, we moved the puck out of our zone pretty well,” Morrison said.
Scriven thought his side could have done better, too: “That second period, we kind of slacked a bit. We weren’t playing as a team; we were kind of selfish.”
The Mintos picked up in the third where they left off in the first period, scoring four goals and sealing the win, while outshooting the Argos 19-7.
As if trying to play the role of agitators, the Argos skaters upped their physical, chippy play, often checking Mintos players after they had passed the puck on and stirring up tensions in post-whistle scrums.
“(The coaches) just tell us to stay out the crap and stuff, just because there’s no point in taking a game misconduct against a team when we’re winning 7-2; there’s just no point,” Pillar said of the rough play.
Scriven played on the same line as Pillar and Lamotte, an opportunity he was grateful for. “They’re great hockey players – just awesome to play with, they’re so smart and good with the puck.”
“Those guys both get stuff done,” Pillar said of his line mates. “They work hard for the puck and it’s really good.”
Along with Scriven, Robin and Pillar, Lamotte had a goal and two assists in the game.
As an alternate captain, Lamotte said it’s good to see the team’s younger players stepping up, especially as it prepares to head to Calgary for the annual Mac’s tournament in late December.
The Mintos (20-4-2-0) also won their Saturday afternoon game against the Saskatoon Blazers 3-1 at the Art Hauser Centre.
The last time the teams met, on Oct. 14, Blazers goalie Matthew Pesenti stood on his head and turned aside 48 of 50 Mintos’ shots for a tight 3-2 win.
But on Saturday, Prince Albert found some measure of redemption, finding the back of the net enough times for the win.
“I thought we played a pretty solid game,” Morrison said of the Saturday game.
The Mintos beat Saskatoon goalie Adam Dmyterko on three of 41 total shots.
“We need to bear down and score on some of our chances – it could have been a totally different game. But I thought we played a pretty solid game for the most part,” Morrison said.
The other highlight of the Sunday game was the local Optimist Club’s donation of $3,000 to the P.A. team. Club president Ryan Dutchak and vice-president Jim Nicholson presented team manager Don Fauchoux with a giant cheque at the start of the game.
The Mintos next play the Battlefords Stars on the road on Dec. 19 at 7:30 p.m. It will be the team’s last game before its Christmas break.
Soon after, the Mintos will head to Calgary for the annual Mac’s Midget AAA tournament, which begins on Dec. 26.