With only a few spots up for grabs at this weekend’s training camp, the battle to make the 2019-20 roster for the Prince Albert Mintos was a competitive one at the Art Hauser Centre.
“I think it’s safe to say that the entire staff was really impressed with what the guys brought over the two days,” first year Mintos head coach Danton Danielson said.
“It was a bit of a younger camp this year and we made quite a few our roster decisions back in the spring, so we were more focused on dialing in on our last spots on the roster and also seeing some of the younger players that we can bring on board in the future.”
One of the biggest takeaways of the camp for Danielson was the level of competitiveness and the energy level among all three teams during the two days of scrimmages, on-ice practice sessions and fitness testing.
“It’s always nice to compare where the guys are at compared to when we saw them in the spring,” Danielson said. “These are still young men that are growing and changing all the time. A few months can do quite a lot for 15, 16 and 17 year-olds.
“It’s still early, but I think we’re a team with a lot of skill and a team that’s fairly smart as well, which puts us in a good spot.”
The youth movement was also in full effect with several 2005-born players taking part in the camp, along with a 2006-born forward in Ashton Tait.
“Part of the reason that they are here is to see who we could have as a potential affiliate player on our roster this year but we also want them to see what the Mintos program is all about,” Danielson said.
“When you are around the rink, you see the pride that people have in the Mintos program and that’s something we want to show to the players who may not be from the Prince Albert area. We also know how important it is to have that local feeder system as well, which is going to be the key to our success going forward.”
Like the other 11 teams in the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League, Danielson is now playing the waiting game to see how many players could make the jump to junior hockey.
The Mintos could return defenceman Alex Ozar and Marek Schneider from last year’s team that lost to the Saskatoon Blazers in the quarter-final round, along with forwards Gabe Klassen, Cohner Saleski, Chase Bertholet, Ashton Ferster and Dawson Springer, but they have all signed contracts with Western Hockey League teams.
“There are a few guys that could make the jump up to the WHL or various Junior A leagues,” Danielson said. “We’ve made projections on guys that we are expecting back and aren’t expecting back, but we also have some guys that are right in the middle and we have them penciled into our plans while we wait to see what happens.
“As a result, we’re going to have a fair number of guys still with us as we start the pre-season (with a Saturday, Sept. 7 road game against the Battlefords Stars) but we’ll have a better idea of what our roster is when we get down to our last couple of exhibition games.”