Winner of best-of-five semifinal earns berth in league final
For game 1 of their best-of-five semifinal playoff series, the Regina Pat Canadians started the game’s scoring with three consecutive goals over 28 minutes.
The Prince Albert Mintos did them one better.
Kick-started by Parker Fofonoff’s power play goal in the latter half of the second period, the Mintos responded with four consecutive goals over the next 25 minutes to win the game 4-3 in Regina.
P.A. leads the Midget AAA Hockey League round 2 playoff series one game to zero. The winner of the series earns a berth in the league final later this month.
“I think we had the momentum all along,” Fofonoff said of his goal. He underscored that his team remained optimistic and persistent with its offensive chances through the opening half the of the game. That was despite the fact that Regina was up 3-0, and until his goal, the P.A. club couldn’t crack goalie Nathan Moore.
“Being positive is a key to winning,” he said.
After that, centreman Jaxon Tait pulled the Mintos to within a goal in the period’s final two minutes.
At that point, the P.A. club was up in the shot count 16-14, ready to tie and win the game as the puck dropped on the third period.
Completing the comeback proved to be a game of patience for the Mintos.
They tied the game with just over six minutes to go in the final frame, after forward Luke Nkwama banged in a rebound off of a shot from Tait.
Four minutes later at 17:37, Kishaun Gervais netted what would be the game-winning goal, scoring off of another rebound, this time from an Alex Ozar shot.
“We had possession in their zone, and then I ended up getting it to Ozar,” Gervais explained.
“Next thing, he took a shot on net. I guess the puck was just loose in front, and I ended up getting to it,” he said.
Gervais and the Mintos held the score for the game’s remaining two and a half minutes for the win.
Heading into the start of the contest, he said that the team’s coaches reminded them of the incentive for winning the opening game of the series.
“(They) told us if we won that game, we’d have a good start on the series, and if we beat them in their own rink, then we could take it back to P.A. and we’d be in a good spot.”
Much like Fofonoff, Gervais said remaining positive on the bench was a collective effort from the whole team.
“We were getting a lot of chances that we couldn’t capitalize on, and then they came back and scored a couple goals on us. But we didn’t let that get to us.”
The other part of the game that stood out was Regina’s usage of a trap system, something the P.A. forward said his team hadn’t seen from them during regular season paly.
“They kind of played a different neutral-zone trap that we needn’t to adjust to.
“They played the 1-2-2 up high in their neutral zone, and they were covering us whenever we tried to break (the puck) out.
“So we adjusted to that pretty well, and I thought we played it pretty well,” he said.
The Mintos and the Pat Canadians are off from play on Friday and Saturday. They play game 2 of their semifinal series in Prince Albert on Sunday at the Art Hauser Centre at 7 p.m.
Along with their goal-scorers, the Mintos had assists from Gervais, Tait, Alex Moar (2), Ozar, Kade McMillen and Hunter Schnell.
Goalie Cale Elder stopped 18 of 21 shots for the win. Regina’s Moore stopped 18 of 22 shots in the losing effort.