Bantam Pirates on an 11-game win streak

Lucas Punkari/Daily Herald Colin Paulhus of the Prince Albert Venice House Pirates controls the puck during a game against the Regina Monarchs at the Art Hauser Centre earlier this month.

There’s been no stopping the Prince Albert Venice House Pirates as of late.

Following a 7-3 win on Sunday afternoon over the West Central Wheat Kings in Kerrobert, the Saskatchewan Bantam AA Hockey League team has rattled off 11 straight wins ahead of a Saturday evening contest with the Martensville Marauders at the Kinsmen Arena at 7:45 p.m.

“The kids have been working really hard,” Pirates head coach Rod Dallman said. “We didn’t start off the way that we wanted to but they kept working and buying into what we are trying to sell them as coaches.

“They are really excited about how they have been playing here lately.”

After a 6-3 loss to the Regina Monarchs at the Art Hauser Centre on Dec. 9 dropped their record to 3-7-1, the Pirates began their streak with an impressive 18-3 home triumph over the Moose Jaw Warriors.

Along the way, they’ve won their games in a variety of ways, including a dramatic 4-3 road overtime triumph over the Regina Pat Blues last Saturday.

“One of the biggest things in minor hockey, especially at this level, is to get the kids to understand that it’s a team game and they have different roles they have to fit in,” Dallman said.

“Sometimes it can take a little bit for the guys to accept those different roles, but now that they are, we’re getting the successful results.”

The 14-7-1 Pirates, who are tied for sixth in the North Division standings with the North East Wolfpack, are led on offence by second year forward Tanner Howe who has 51 points in 22 games.

“He’s our lone returning player up front and we’ve gotten a lot of mileage out of him this year,” Dallman said. “He’s a very good leader for us and he’s someone that our younger guys can look up to.

“Everyone wants to be the guy but it is important to have everyone in their role. We have a strong goaltending group (with Jayden Kraus and Frank Chaboyer) and we have four players (Danton Cox, Caden Dunn, Theran Lysitza and Brady Smith) back on defence from last, which helps a lot.”

Ashton Tait and Roper Blanchard are second and third in team scoring with 36 points and 30 points respectively.

Saturday’s game against the Marauders marks the start of a seven-game homestand for the Pirates, who have nine contests left in their regular season slate before the playoff begin.

“It’s an old cliché but the biggest thing that you have worry about is yourself, so we’re doing a lot of system reviews to make sure that we are working as a five-man unit out there before the playoffs start,” Dallman said.

“With that said, there are a lot of very good players in this league and you’ll see a number of them being picked in the first round of the Western Hockey League Draft this year. You have to pay attention to those certain players and adjust how you play against them, which has been a good learning experience for the kids.”