The Prince Albert Mintos dominated large stretches of their regular season home finale at the Art Hauser Centre, but it was the visiting Tisdale Trojans who escaped with the two points.
The Mintos outshot the Trojans 40-29, including a 16-7 run in the third period alone, but fell 2-1 in a five-round shootout on Wednesday
After the game, coach Danton Danielson said the game was a good wakeup call for his players, who generated an abundance of scoring chances, but failed to take advantage of them.
“I thought we had a great third period. We deserved to win the game based on that period, but I didn’t think we were very good in the first two, and that’s what catches up to you,” Danielson told reporters. “When you don’t play a full 60 minutes, sometimes you let luck come into play a little bit more than it needs to. I thought we were unlucky in the third period not to come away with the win there, but if we play like that for three (periods) we probably walk out of here with a win.”
The two teams played a wide open first period, going nearly five minutes without a whistle after the opening faceoff. Minto forward Austin McLean was responsible for the first stoppage at 15:11 when he snuck a shot past Tisdale goalie Hunter Lolacher to make it 1-0.
The two teams traded scoring chances throughout the first, forcing Lolacher and Mintos netminder Joel Favreau to make a number of difficult saves, but neither team was able to generate any more goals.
That trend continued in the second, with both teams squandering scoring chances before Noah Wills tied it with roughly seven minutes left in the period. The puck took a strange bounce off Wills’ skate and slid underneath Favreau to make it 1-1. The officiating crew didn’t hesitate to count the goal, despite loud calls from the hometown crowd to wave it off.
The Mintos hemmed Tisdale in their own end for the rest of the period but misfired again on a number of chances, including a 3-on-0 opportunity that ended without a shot on goal.
“Definitely guys were not bearing down on chances tonight,” Danielson said. “We had a lot of chances that we could have buried that we didn’t, and when you leave it until that late in the game to try to do it and you leave it to a coin flip in a shootout, you can end up on the wrong end of it.”
The Mintos continued their strong play in the third period but were unable to solve Lolacher, who finished the night with 39 saves.
The overtime period produced another flurry of chances, particularly for Mintos forward Chase Bertholet. On two separate occasions, Bertholet stickhandled around Tisdale defenceman, only to be turned aside by Lolacher.
The strong goaltending continued into the shootout, where Favreau and Lolacher combined to turn away the first eight attempts before Trojan forward Mackenzie Carson fired a wrist shot past Favreau to give the visitors the lead. Lolacher then stopped Turner McMillen to seal the victory.
The loss means Prince Albert will have to run the table if they hope to catch the Saskatoon Contacts and Saskatoon Blazers for fourth place in the SMAAAHL standings. They’ll also have to get some help from the rest of the league. The Blazers and Contacts both have 56 points heading into the regular season’s final week, while the Mintos sit in sixth with 52 points and three games remaining.
The Contacts have two games left, while the Blazers have six, including one against the Mintos in Saskatoon on Friday. Puck drop is 7:45 p.m. at Rod Hamm Memorial Arena. Prince Albert closes out the regular season with road games against Swift Current and Yorkton the following weekend.