SMAAHL side to open campaign with a pair of home games this weekend
Not only will Saturday mark five months to the days since Danton Danielson was hired as the Prince Albert Mintos head coach, but it will also be his first official game behind the bench in the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League as the Battlefords Stars come to town for a 1:30 p.m. affair at the Art Hauser Centre.
“I’m looking forward to it,” Danielson said. “The pre-season has been a learning experience for me but there’s a great support system here and they’ve helped me a lot through this learning curve.
“Even though this is a higher level of coaching for me after coaching in bantam (with the Saskatoon Outlaws), but the game is still the same and you approach things the same way.”
The Mintos, who lost in the first round last year in a thrilling five-game series with the Saskatoon Blazers, posted a 2-4 record in the pre-season.
They wrapped up exhibition play with a 5-3 victory over the Beardy’s Blackhawks on Tuesday at the Art Hauser Centre and a 2-0 loss to the Blazers Wednesday.
“The biggest thing for us has been to continue to develop and get used to playing with each other, especially with how volatile the lineups can be at this time of the year as players come back from SJHL and WHL training camps,” Danielson said.
“We are progressing a lot though and I think the guys are starting to understand the strategy and tactics that we plan to use this season.”
Second-year forward Cooper Chisholm led the SMAAAHL in pre-season scoring with nine points in five games.
The Mintos also welcomed back some familiar faces over the course of the last week as Marek Schneider, Chase Bertholet, Ashton Ferster and Dawson Springer all returned to the side after attending training camps for the Saskatoon Blades, Winnipeg Ice, Medicine Hat Tigers and Swift Current Broncos respectively.
“Any time you can get those players back late in the pre-season, it’s a good indication that they are close to getting to the next level as those WHL teams gave them a long look at their training camp,” Danielson said. “It’s a big boost to our lineup to have them back.”
Saturday’s opponent is a familiar one for the Mintos, as they had two meetings with the Stars in exhibition play, which were both won by Battlefords.
“I think those meetings help us to some extent as they were close to having their lineup that we will see for the opener,” Danielson said.
“On the other hand, a big part of our group will be seeing them for the first time on Saturday, so I’m not sure how much we can take out of those pre-season games.”
First-year Mintos forward Dallyn Peekeekoot will not be in the lineup for the season opener or Sunday’s home game against the Swift Current Legionnaires, which will get underway at 1:30 p.m.
The Prince Albert Raiders draft pick is currently sidelined with a collarbone injury.