Mintos awaiting playoff opponent

Lucas Punkari/Daily Herald Prince Albert Mintos forward Gavin Ingram takes a shot on goal during a home game against the Notre Dame Hounds earlier this month.

The Prince Albert Mintos will be the sixth seed when the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League playoffs begin next week.

However, as they head into their regular season finale at the Art Hauser Centre against the Saskatoon Blazers on Sunday at 1:30 p.m., the Mintos opponent for their best-of-five quarterfinal series remains a mystery.

Heading into this weekend’s slate of games, the Regina Pat Canadians and Tisdale Trojans are tied for first place in the 12-team loop with 66 points, while the Blazers sit four points back.

The Pat Canadians and Trojans have a pair of contests left on their slate and the Blazers have three games remaining.

The Mintos, who have a 23-18-2-0 record going into this weekend, officially clinched sixth in the standings on Wednesday night after the Beardy’s Blackhawks dropped an 8-2 decision to the Moose Jaw Generals in their regular season finale.

The Saskatoon Contacts also had a chance to overtake those two sides but ended up finishing in eighth spot after a 3-2 loss to the Battlefords Stars Tuesday.

The only matchup that’s set in stone will be between the Notre Dame Hounds and the Swift Current Legionnaires, but both teams are currently tied for fourth place heading into this weekend.

Sunday’s matchup with the Blazers will give the Mintos a chance to enter the playoffs on a winning note.

They picked up a 3-2 road triumph over the Yorkton Maulers last Saturday afternoon but were shutout 6-0 by the Pat Canadians in Regina a day later.

“Even though we were missing a few guys with the Canada Winter Games, we were able to get some more ice time to some other players and I think that will help us a lot moving forward,” Mintos head coach Ken Morrison said.

“We played well at times during our five-game road trip, but we didn’t have a full 60-minute effort in some of those games.”

Andrew Schaab had a goal and an assist in Saturday’s win in Yorkton, which also saw Turner McMillen and Ethan Ironside find the back of the net and Spencer Welke make 20 saves.

Jayden Harris had a goal and an assist for the Maulers, who will finish the season at the bottom of the 12-team loop.

Carter Belitski scored three times for the Pat Canadians on Sunday, while Parker Hendres and Adam Kydd had three-assist showings.

Max Kotyk, Braden Birnie and Luc Marleau also scored for the hosts, who received a 17-save performance from Jared Thompson.

After being reassigned by the Regina Pats, Carter Woodside was back in goal for the Mintos and stopped 25 shots.

As they gear up for Sunday’s finale, it’s not yet clear if Gabe Klassen, Marek Schneider, Ashton Ferster and Logan Cox will be back in the lineup for the Mintos as they take on the Blazers.

The quartet were going for a bronze medal at the Canada Winter Games in Red Deer Friday evening as Saskatchewan went up against Alberta.

In other news, Mintos forward Chase Bertholet signed a standard player agreement with the WHL’s Kootenay Ice earlier this week.

Bertholet, who was a fifth round pick by the Red Deer Rebels in the 2018 WHL Bantam Draft but had his rights dealt to the Ice in December in a trade that saw the Rebels land forwards Brett Davis and Cameron Hausinger, is third in team scoring this season with 42 points in 42 games.

“Chase has improved a lot since the season started and he’s become one of our most consistent players,” Morrison said.

“He knows that he has to get a little bit stronger and I’m sure you’ll seem working on that during the off-season.”