With two weekends of play behind them, the Prince Albert Mintos are the team to beat in the early stages of the 2019-20 Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League campaign.
The team improved to 4-0 with a 3-2 triumph over the Saskatoon Blazers on Friday and a 7-2 triumph over the Notre Dame Argos Saturday at the SMAAAHL Showcase event in Warman, which gives them a three-point advantage over the Tisdale Trojans for the top spot in the 12-team loop.
“Those were two very different games against two different types of opponents,” Mintos head coach Danton Danielson said. “The Blazers are probably going to be one of the favourites in the league this year, especially after they made the final this past season, while the Argos are in a different stage of their cycle.
“I thought we probably played a better game on Friday and our group wasn’t happy with our effort on Saturday, despite the score being in our favour. There’s still some fluctuations with our lineup as we get guys back and we tinker things a little bit, but that’s fun to be a part of.”
The Mintos got a big boost to their lineup this weekend as 16-year-old forward Gabe Klassen returned to the team after starting the season with the Western Hockey League’s Portland Winterhawks.
A first round pick in the 2018 WHL Bantam Draft, Klassen scored in Friday’s game against the Blazers and followed that up with two goals and an assist on Saturday against the Argos.
“It was a real question mark as to whether or not we would get Gabe back as we mapped our lineup during the summer,” Danielson said. “He’s a really special player and by all accounts, he did a great job out in Portland.
“Any time that you can get a player like Gabe into the mix, it definitely helps your team, and now it’s up to us to make that we do a good job in helping him to develop.”
Turner McMillen scored twice in Saturday’s triumph, which saw Austin McLean and Chase Bertholet dish out a pair of assists each
Dawson Springer, Ashton Ferster and Cooper Chisholm also found the back of the net, while Joel Favreau made 16 saves.
John Greenough and Jaryd Sych countered for the 0-3 Argos, who received a 31-save performance from Ian Lee.
Mintos captain Chase Friedt-Mohr had a pair of assists in Friday’s contest, which also saw Josh Peppler and Kayden Skulmoski join Klassen in the goal-scoring department.
Spencer Welke made 36 saves to earn his second victory of the season.
Alec Saretzky scored twice and Brett Mirwald stopped 20 shots for the 2-1 Blazers.
The Mintos are currently gearing up for a trip to Merlis Belsher Place on Thursday night as they will go up against the 2-0 Saskatoon Contacts.
“We had a really good skate on Monday and I expect that to continue here this week before that game,” Danielson said.
“The biggest thing that we are working on right now is to raise our celling as we want to get to a higher level each time that we play.”
Following another trip to Saskatoon next Wednesday to take on the Blazers, the Mintos will return to the Art Hauser Centre on Saturday, Oct. 12 for a 1:30 p.m. clash with the Regina Pat Canadians.