Make it seven in a row for the Prince Albert Mintos, but it wasn’t easy.
Goals from Austin McLean and Gabe Klassen helped the Mintos hold off the hard-charging Regina Pat Canadians for a 2-1 win at the Art Hauser Centre on Saturday.
Coach Danton Danielson called it a good character game for his team, especially against a stingy Regina club who only had one loss coming into Saturday’s contest.
“I thought today we were really good, particularly from the early moments on,” Danielson said. “I think we did a good job of playing the kind of structure and systems … that we want to take.”
Saturday’s game featured two of the most defensively sound clubs in Midget AAA hockey, so it was no surprise to see a scoreless first period.
The Mintos broke the deadlock a little over halfway through the second when McLean pounced on a loose puck and jammed it short-side past Pat Canadian goaltender Drayden Ramage.
“One of my buddies, Gage Helm, shot it on net and the puck was sitting right on the post there,” McLean said afterwards. “I just drove to the net and started whacking and it went in.”
It wasn’t just the first goal of the game for the Mintos either. It was the first of McLean’s Midget AAA career.
“It feels unreal right now, especially since I’m from Regina,” he said. “That’s my hometown team. To get my first goal against them feels pretty good.”
The Mintos made it 2-0 on the powerplay just three minutes later. Gabe Klassen jumped on another rebound, this one off a point shot from Chase Friedt-Mohr, and slapped it passed a sprawling Ramage.
“Goal scoring’s a funny thing,” Danielson said when asked about the second period. “I don’t think we did a whole lot differently. We made a couple of adjustments after the first period—minor things but mostly defensively. Maybe it contributed to us having the puck a little bit more, but goals sometimes go in and sometimes they don’t.”
“We had some good chances in the first too that could have gone in,” he continued. “We could have been up after one but sometimes it just hits the goalie or the goalie makes a nice save, and they have a good goalie.”
The Pat Canadians came roaring back in the third period, outshooting the Mintos 12-4 and cutting the lead in half with five minutes to play. Kyren Gronick took a centering pass and fired a shot past diving Mintos netminder Spencer Welke.
The Mintos took three penalties in the third period after not taking any in the first two, and Danielson said that made it difficult regain momentum.
“We have some really good penalty killers, but anytime you’re killing a few in a row, it kind of throws things off on the bench, you know, getting line combos back in order,” he explained. “It got us a bit on our heals, I think, and they were able to take advantage and do a little bit of damage.”
However, that was as close as the visitors got. Welke shut the door the rest of the way, making 23 saves in a winning cause. Ramage finished with 22 stops for Regina.
The win means the Mintos remain in a first place tie with the Saskatoon Contacts, who beat the Swift Current Legionnaires 5-2 on Saturday. Prince Albert will have a chance to take sole possession of first place when the Tisdale Trojans visit the Art Hauser Centre on Sunday. Puck drop is 1:30 p.m.