The last two games for the Prince Albert Mintos have been a good litmus test to see where they stand against the current co-leaders in the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League standings.
After rallying late for a 4-3 overtime triumph over the Saskatoon Blazers Tuesday, the Mintos were unable to complete a second straight comeback at the Art Hauser Centre Thursday night as they dropped a 3-2 decision to the Saskatoon Contacts.
“I’m glad that the guys have brought an increased compete level for these last two games and I think we’re starting to trend upwards a little bit here,” Mintos head coach Danton Danielson said.
“We’re back on an upswing here and the guys are competing and working hard. We just didn’t quite have enough gas in the tank there at the end like we did on Tuesday night.”
Although the Contacts moved back into a tie for first place in the standings with the Blazers on 29 points, the league table is extremely close behind them as the top seven teams are separated by a scant eight points.
“It’s nice to see all of this parity,” Contacts head coach Marc Chartier said. “Any team can beat each other on any given night, which really says a lot about our league at the moment.”
Victoria Royals prospect Matthew Hodson and Jacob Visentini had a goal and an assist each for the Contacts, who improved their record to 14-4-1.
“It really could have gone either way here, especially in the third period,” Chartier said.
“We both had opportunities to score with our special teams units, but each team did a great job of killing off some penalties and both goalies played really well.”
Brayden Yager, who is expected to be a top-five pick in May’s Western Hockey League Bantam Draft along with fellow underage Contacts forward Riley Heidt, also scored for the visitors.
Saskatoon Blades prospect Ethan Chadwick turned aside 25 shots to help his team earn the victory.
Chase Pauls and Chase Bertholet, who are prospects of the Lethbridge Hurricanes and the Winnipeg Ice respectively, both scored for the 12-7 Mintos,
“I thought the line of Bertholet, Turner McMillen and Dallyn Peekeekoot was really good tonight, but our other two lines didn’t quite have that same attention to detail as a whole,” Danielson said.
“We also took a four-minute penalty late (when Austin McLean was called for head contact) that cost us a little bit as we had some momentum on our side after getting within a goal, but I still felt like we played well overall.”
Regina Pats prospect Spencer Welke made 21 saves in a losing effort.
Next up for the Mintos is a trip to the provincial capital on Saturday afternoon to face the Regina Pat Canadians, who they are currently tied with for fourth place in the league standings.
“They just got a big piece back from Spokane (forward Blake Swetlikoff) so they will have a bit of a different look now from when we saw them last weekend,” Danielson said.
“When you look at this league right now, there are a number of really good teams that are competing for that top spot, and we’re all in the same boat when it comes to dealing with injuries or having guys away with WHL teams.”
The Mintos will conclude their weekend road trip Sunday with a matinee matchup against the 3-15-1-0 Yorkton Maulers.