Hard-hitting and high-scoring matchups have been a trademark over the years whenever the Prince Albert Mintos and the Beardy’s Blackhawks have squared off.
That was the case once again on Thursday night at the Art Hauser Centre as the Mintos came away with an 8-4 triumph over the Blackhawks in the last matchup between the two sides in the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League.
“It’s tough to see them go and for this to be our last game against them,” Mintos captain Chase Friedt-Mohr said. “It was another hard-fought game with Beardy’s and I thought everyone contributed out there.”
“We always have good, rough and fast matchups whenever we face each other,” Blackhawks captain Robert Pizzey added. “It’s always fun when we get to play the Mintos.”
The Blackhawks will be wrapping up their 25-year run in the SMAAAHL later this month as they were left without a spot in the 12-team circuit after a restructuring of the Midget AAA ranks by the Saskatchewan Hockey Association.
In the move, the Blackhawks and the Notre Dame Argos will be replaced by the Estevan Bruins and the Warman Wildcats next season.
The 12-23-0-1 Blackhawks, who are in 10th place in the league standings and would need to win out just to make the playoffs, have eight games left in their regular season schedule before their finale on Saturday, Feb. 22 at 4 p.m. when they’ll host the Argos at the Willow Cree Memorial Sport Centre.
“We just need to go out and keep playing the way that we have all season,” Pizzey said. “We’ve been able to find a way to put pucks in the net, but we just need to keep them out of our net.
“If we can do that, I think we can go on a nice win streak here to end the year.”
Thursday’s contest was also highlighted by a career night for Mintos forward Ashton Ferster, as the Medicine Hat Tigers prospect recorded his first career hat trick for his hometown club.
“It (the offensive opportunities) have been coming for us all year,” Ferster said. “We’ve been getting lots of chances and the puck was going in for us tonight, which was nice to see.
“It was a pretty heated game out there and it was nice for us to come out on top. We just stuck to our game and we were able to outwork them in the end.”
Winnipeg Ice prospect Chase Bertholet led the way for the Mintos on offence with four assists, while Ty Bahm had a goal and two helpers.
Dawson Brace and Josh Peppler scored a goal and had an assist each for the hosts, who improved to 24-14-1-0 and are two points back of the Notre Dame Hounds for fifth place in the league table.
Gage Helm and Kody Willick also scored for the Mintos, who received a two-assist outing from Kayden Skumoski and a 32-save performance from Joel Favreau.
Cole Duperreault, who is second in SMAAAHL scoring with 59 points in 36 games, continued his excellent rookie campaign for the Blackhawks with two goals and an assist.
Pizzey recorded a goal and two assists in the loss, while Holden Doell dished out a pair of helpers.
“I felt like we played pretty good tonight, but we just had a few lapses on defence,” Pizzey said.
“Even though we fell behind early (4-1 after 17 minutes), I thought we made a good comeback. There have been multiple times this season where we clawed back in the third period to earn a point or get the win, but we couldn’t quite pull it off tonight.”
Ethan Bear also lit the lamp for the Blackhawks and Matthew Hennessey stopped 35 shots.
The Mintos will return to action on Saturday at 7 p.m. as they’ll host the Moose Jaw Warriors at the Art Hauser Centre.
The 28-9-0-1 Warriors are a point ahead of the Saskatoon Contacts for second in the standings and are just four markers back of the league-leading Regina Pat Canadians with two games in hand.
“We just need to keep on building energy here before we get to the playoffs,” Friedt-Mohr said.
“We need to stick to our roles like we did tonight. Our guys that are hitters were doing their thing and our guys that are scorers were finding the back of the net.”
After their final home game of the regular season next Wednesday evening against the Tisdale Trojans, the Mintos will finish off their pre-playoff push with a three-game road trip.
Following an encounter with the Saskatoon Blazers on Valentine’s Day, the club will square off with the Swift Current Legionnaires on Feb. 22 and the Yorkton Maulers on Feb. 23.
In other news, the Mintos announced earlier this week that their annual spring camp will take place from April 24-26 at the Kinsmen Arena and the Art Hauser Centre.
For more information, contact team manager Don Fauchoux at 306-961-3672.