The Prince Albert Mintos are in sole possession of first place thanks to a pair of wins at the Art Hauser Centre over the weekend, but coach Danton Danielson says there’s still room for improvement.
Victories over the Regina Pat Canadians and Tisdale Trojans mean the Mintos sit two points up on the Saskatoon Contacts for top spot in the SMAAAHL. Danielson credits his club’s hot start to the high level of talent on the roster, but said they need to keep improving every game to remain there.
“You’re only going to get by on skill for so long because other teams are also working on improving their team play and their structure too,” Danielson said following Sunday’s 4-1 win over Tisdale. “Eventually it’s going to become a game where all those factors are required on any given night to succeed. I think that’s the big thing for us, just keep focusing on the process.”
The Mintos got a big boost when Gabe Klassen returned to the club in late September after a brief stint with the Portland Winterhawks. Klassen has eight goals in just six games with Prince Albert, including one in each game over the weekend.
For the last two victories, however, it was all offence by committee. Five different players scored during those two wins, with Ty Bahm, Dawson Brace and Austin McLean all tallying their first goals in Midget AAA.
“It’s good to see some of that depth scoring coming through,” Danielson said. “We’ve been able to build wins with different guys kicking in some contributions here and there throughout the early part of the year. It’s nice to see (Bahm and Brace) get their first tonight, and Austin yesterday. They probably deserved to have their first a lot sooner than this by how hard they were working, but sometimes lines take a little bit to gel.”
The Mintos are off until Thursday when they travel to Beardy’s to face the Blackhawks at Willow Cree Memorial Sports Centre. Puck drop is 8 p.m.
Mintos 4 Trojans 1
For the second straight game, the Mintos used a big second period to put away their opponents.
Goals from Gabe Klassen and Chase Bertholet broke open a 1-1 hockey game, and helped Prince Albert skate away with a 4-1 win over the visiting Tisdale Trojans.
Ty Bahm and Dawson Brace also scored for the Mintos while rookie Joel Favreau made 26 saves to earn the victory. Hunter Lolacher made 31 saves for the Trojans in a losing cause.
“I thought we had a little bit of a slow start. I thought we let them carry the play to begin with and maybe let them bring a little bit more energy and intensity to this rivalry game than maybe we brought,” coach Danton Danielson said afterwards. “But after the first period I thought we got back to our style and started working hard again.”
Tisdale opened the scoring roughly nine minutes into the first period when Mackenzie Carson tallied his fifth of the year, with assists to Mario Fortier and Kylynn Olafson. The Trojans outshot the Mintos 13-11 in the opening frame, and looked like they were going to take that lead into the second period. However Bahm evened things up with a minute and a half to play by tapping home a prefect cross-ice feed for his first goal as a Minto.
“It felt good to get the first one. Hopefully there’s more to come,” he said afterwards. “Bertholet gave me a nice saucer pass. I just had to tap it in.”
The Mintos came out flying for the second period, outshooting the Trojans 11-4 and taking the lead for good.
Klassen got things started at almost the halfway point when he slid the puck through Lolacher’s five-hole after being left all alone in front of Tisdale’s net. Bertholet added another on the power play roughly five minutes later.
“I think the big difference was just upping the intensity and the compete level a little bit after the first period,” Danielson said. “From that point on I don’t think we gave up a whole lot and I think we controlled the game pretty well.”
Dawson Brace added some insurance with four minutes to play in the third period. The Minto forward slid the puck under Lolacher’s outstretched stick during a goalmouth scramble to make it 4-1.
Danielson said the line of Brace, Cooper Chisholm and Josh Peppler was incredibly effective on Sunday. He was glad to see those efforts rewarded with a goal.
“I thought they moved the puck nicely off entries and created a few chances for each other and did good to get one close to the end there with Bracer sealing the deal for us,” he said.
The win gives the Mintos a perfect 8-0 record while the Trojans fall to 2-6-0-1. Prince Albert’s next home game is Saturday, Oct. 19 against Moose Jaw. Puck drop is 7 p.m.