Triple overtime heartbreak for Mintos

Lucas Punkari/Daily Herald Saskatoon Contacts forward Tye Spencer celebrates after scoring on Prince Albert Mintos netminder Spencer Welke in triple overtime at the Art Hauser Centre on Thursday night.

Contacts take 2-0 series lead and will go for the sweep in Saskatoon Saturday afternoon

After nearly 100 minutes of back-and-forth hockey, Saskatoon Blazers forward Tye Spencer put the Prince Albert Mintos’ in a win or go home situation on Thursday night at the Art Hauser Centre.

The Kamloops Blazers prospect received a breakaway feed from Brayden Yager and slid a shot by Spencer Welke with 10:53 to go in the third overtime frame to complete a hat trick performance and give the Contacts a dramatic 4-3 win.

“Honestly, I just wanted to catch the pass (from Yager) and get a good shot off,” Spencer said after scoring his first ever playoff overtime winning goal. “There was a lot of pressure on that one and I’m happy to help the boys pull through.”

With the triumph, the Contacts now hold a 2-0 advantage in their best-of-five Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League quarter-final series and can sweep aside the Mintos at 1:15 p.m. on Saturday at Merlis Belsher Place.

“Being down 2-0 is never a spot that you want to be in, but it’s a best-of-five for a reason,” Mintos head coach Danton Danielson said. “We’re going to give everything that we have in Saskatoon on Saturday.

“We played a great game and we deserved to win. We had countless plays where we could have scored and things could have gone the other way, but the luck just wasn’t on our side tonight.”

Both netminders were excellent in the contest as Spencer Welke stopped 40 shots for the Mintos and Chase Hamm made 43 saves for the Contacts.

Their best work came in the second overtime as Hamm made a glove save on a shot from the slot by Ashton Ferster, while Welke stretched out his right pad out to rob Spencer on a rebound attempt.

“He was rock solid for us tonight, especially in the second overtime,” Danielson said of Welke’s performance. “That was the one period that Saskatoon outplayed us in and he kept us in it, especially on that save midway through the period (on Spencer).”

“‘Hammer’ was fantastic,” Contacts head coach Marc Chartier added. “Both sides had great goaltending and that’s what you need in those types of situations.”

Yager and Jacob Visentini had a pair of assists each for the Contacts, who also got a goal from Riley Heidt.

“It’s like a good boxer when you are in a game like this,” Chartier said. “We took a couple of hits early on when they got out the lead after six or seven minutes, but we kept moving forward.

“We never lost confidence and we believed that we could do it. We’re a young team but we showed our compete level for six periods.”

Turner McMillen, Gage Helm and Dawson Springer all had a goal and an assist each for the Mintos, who had a much-improved effort following their 4-1 loss to the Contacts in Tuesday’s series opener.

“I thought we did a better job of shutting down their chances on the rush,” Danielson said. “We were more successful in our defensive zone play and in getting things going the other way.

“I think that’s what allowed us to lead the charge for most of the game.”

If the Mintos can stave off elimination on Saturday, the fourth game in the series would take place at the Art Hauser Centre at 7 p.m. Monday.

A fifth and deciding contest, if required, would be held in Saskatoon at 8:15 p.m. Thursday.

Thursday’s Scores

  • Moose Jaw 4 Notre Dame 2 (Moose Jaw leads 1-0 – Atley Calvert – Three Goals)
  • Regina 6 Swift Current 0 (Regina leads 1-0 – Carson Whyte – Two Goals)
  • Saskatoon Blazers 7 Tisdale 1 (Series tied 1-1 – Tyson Wouters – Three Goals)

Friday’s Schedule

  • Regina vs. Swift Current (Game 2) – 8 p.m.

Saturday’s Schedule

  • Prince Albert vs. Saskatoon Contacts (Game 3) – 1:15 p.m.
  • Tisdale vs. Saskatoon Blazers (Game 3) – 7:45 p.m.

Mintos sign three players for next season

While the club is currently in the middle of post-season play, the Mintos are already starting work on the 2020-21 campaign.

The team announced on Tuesday afternoon that forwards Tanner Howe and Travis Swanson will be joining the program next season, along with blueliner Rhett Ravndahl.

Howe, who is eligible to be selected at the Western Hockey League Bantam Draft in May, leads the Prince Albert Venice House Pirates in scoring this season with 73 points in 30 games.

After a 32 point campaign with the Pirates last year, Swanson was second in scoring the Prince Albert Dairy Queen Chill Midget AA during the 2019-20 season with 41 points in 33 games.

He also had three assists in five games for the Mintos.

Ravndahl, who made four appearances with the Mintos this year, has 25 points in 28 games for the North East Wolfpack program in Tisdale and is eligible to be selected in May’s WHL Bantam Draft.