Blackhawks hand Mintos second straight loss

Prince Albert Mintos forward Cooper Chisholm tries to stickhandle past a Beardy’s Blackhawks defenceman during Midget AAA hockey action at the Art Hauser Centre on Wednesday, Nov. 13. -- Jason Kerr/Daily Herald

It was that kind of night for the Prince Albert Mintos.

Despite outshooting their opponents 39-29 and dominating large portions of the game, the Mintos fell 6-2 to the Beardy’s Blackhawks in a Wednesday night affair at the Art Hauser Centre.

Although the scoreline didn’t flatter his club, Mintos coach Danton Danielson said he was happy with how his team performed.

“It’s kind of silly to say, but I like the way we played,” Danielson said afterwards. “I think we competed hard. I know that (goalie) Joel (Favreau) is in there kicking himself for a couple of those goals he probably wants back. I thought our guys did a really good job of battling, a big contrast to how we played on the weekend.”

“We just didn’t get a lot of luck around the net and had some bad luck in our own end,” he continued. “We’ve got some things to fix, but I think things are moving in the right direction.”

Both teams were coming off losses prior to Wednesday night’s game, but things were a bit more urgent for the Mintos. They lost 6-0 to the Moose Jaw AAA Warriors on Nov. 10, and were still without a number of key players, including leading scorer Gabe Klassen.

Things didn’t start out well on Wednesday either. Ethan Bear opened the scoring on just the second shot of the game to put Beardy’s up 1-0. The Blackhawks then made it 2-0 a little over seven minutes later thanks to Holden Doell.

Although the Mintos controlled play for most of the second period, they had little luck with Blackhawks netminder Matthew Hennessey, who made a number of point-blank saves during the game.

Robert Pizzey then made it 3-0 when he fired home a rebound on the power play with roughly seven minutes to play in the period. Cole Duperreault made it 4-0 just three minutes later.

The Mintos mounted a small comeback bid in the third when Cooper Chisholm outraced a Blackhawks defender for a loose puck and beat Hennessey on a shorthanded breakaway. Tre Fouquette followed with another goal three minutes later when his point shot evaded a screened Hennessey.

It was Fouquette’s first goal in Midget AAA, and it gave the Mintos some temporary hope.

“I was really excited and relieved,” Fouquette said when asked about his first goal. “It’s a big weight lifted off my shoulders.”

“After the midway point of the first, things kind of changed around for us and we started to battle,” Danielson added. “You could tell the way the guys stayed positive on the bench. They didn’t quit until the end. They believed that we would have a chance to win at the end and we almost did there. We almost got it back turned around, had a couple chances when it was 4-2.”

Unfortunately Ethan Bear ended the comeback attempt on a great individual effort with roughly six minutes to play. Bear dove to knock a loose puck past Favreau, who had come out of his net to play it, making it 5-2.

The Mintos came close to making it 5-3 when Josh Peppler hit the crossbar on an odd-man rush, but Bear iced it shortly afterwards with an empty net goal for the hat-trick.

“He’s worked so hard since his first games here. It’s created a lot of opportunities for him, but he’s kind of snake bit a little bit around the net,” Blackhawks coach Dale Grayston said when asked about Bear’s performance. “It was so nice to see him get rewarded for all that effort. It’s the old story. Just keep going back to that same place and eventually good stuff will happen for you.”

It was a bittersweet victory for the Blackhawks, who just found out on Tuesday they won’t compete in the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League next season. Grayston said it was an emotional day, but he was impressed with how his team responded 24-hours later.

“We were pretty proud of them,” he said. “It’s always a tough building to try and get wins in, but I thought our focus was pretty darn good in the first period.

“In the late second, obviously, we lost some focus, but the third period, we just kind of grinded. It was a real grind for both teams and it was just one of those nights where third period you’ve got to grind it out and our guys were able to do that.”

The loss means the Mintos fall to 11-5-0-0 on the season, while Beardy’s improves to 6-10-1-0. Prince Albert is back in action on Sunday, Nov. 17 when they take on the Pat Canadians in Regina. Game time is 3 p.m.