With a number of spots up for grabs on this year’s roster, those looking to make the Prince Albert Mintos lineup were eager to leave a strong impression this weekend.
As head coach Ken Morrison and the rest of the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League team brass observed the action at the Art Hauser Centre during this weekend’s training camp, the level of play from all three teams left the staff highly impressed.
“The effort that everyone put forward was something that we were really happy about,” Morrison said. “We’ve had a bigger spring camp the last couple of years and gone with just the three teams here before the season begins, and that approach seems to work well for everyone.
“Even though it’s a short window of time, the guys have been working really hard during the summer and we could see that with the effort that they put forward during the scrimmages over the last two days.”
The camp featured numerous players who are looking to move up into the midget ranks on a full-time basis this season, along with those who played a part in the Mintos’ run to the SMAAAHL final last spring.
“We had some of the guys who we signed in our spring camp here and we were really happy with how they did,” Morrison said.
“We also had a number of returning players who did really well and it looks like there’s a chance for some of them to make it on to junior teams this season, so we’re excited for them to have that opportunity.”
The Mintos also had a few players on hand that suited up for other Midget AAA clubs last season, with the most notable being forward Cohner Saleski.
A first round pick of the Prince Albert Raiders in the 2017 WHL Bantam Draft, Saleski had 15 points in 24 games for the Saskatoon Contacts during the 2017-18 campaign.
While he could be a valuable member of this year’s roster, players such as Saleski aren’t guaranteed to suit up for the Mintos as Western Hockey League and Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League camps will set the tone for what the squad will look like.
“You never know what’s going to happen,” Morrison said. “There are years where you get guys back that didn’t expect to return, and then there are years where you lose guys that you thought would be coming back.
“It’s a bit of a waiting game as those camps get going and you really don’t know until the end of September as to who you will have on your team.”
As such, the Mintos plan to carry a large roster going into their pre-season slate, which will begin at the Art Hauser Centre on Wednesday, Sept. 5 against the Tisdale Trojans.
“We’re going to be looking at a lot of guys in our six exhibition games,” Morrison said. “We only made a handful of cuts after this weekend so we still have a fairly big roster.
“We plan on playing a few of the bantam aged players in a game or two, along with the older guys that are still here.”
The Mintos will begin the regular season at home on Saturday, Sept. 22 against the Moose Jaw Generals.