A strong start wasn’t enough for the Prince Albert Mintos as they fell 5-2 to the Saskatoon Blazers at the Art Hauser Centre on Wednesday.
The Mintos opened the scoring less than four minutes into the first period, but surrendered four straight goals, including three in the second period. Head coach Tim Leonard said he was happy with the team’s effort, but they made too many errors to win.
“They (the Blazers) are a pretty skilled program,” Leonard said after the game. “There’s not doubt about it, but I think any time you hand them a few goals, you’re going to have a tough go against them, and that’s kind of what we did.
“We made a few mistakes. I think if you take those out, we played a pretty good game.”
The Blazers dominated the shot clock, outshooting the Mintos 41-18, including 15-4 in the first period and 19-7 in the second. The visitors also took advantage of their three powerplay chances, scoring twice with the extra man.
Konnor Watson and Abinet Klassen both scored for the Mintos, while Jayden Kraus made 36 saves in a losing cause. Trae Wilke led the way with two goals for the Blazers, while Grayson Malinoski made 18 saves to earn the win.
The Mintos had four regulars out of the lineup due to illness, and were playing their fourth game in the past eight days.
“There was lots (working) against us,” Leonard said. “That’s what I was happy about, that we didn’t quit. We played right until the buzzer, right until the end, and that’s all we can ask of the kids.
“(With) skilled teams like this, we’ve got to defend, and we’ve got to take advantage of their miscues and breakdowns. I think if we do that, we’ll have some success against them, but you have to defend well. You have to be good in your D-zone, and you have to be patient.”
Watson opened the scoring for Prince Albert with a wrist-shot from the high slot that beat a screened Malinoski to make it 1-0 3:38 into the first period. The Blazers responded with a powerplay goal roughly four minutes later when Cole Reschny’s point shot eluded Kraus to make it 1-1.
The teams went into the second period tied at one, but Saskatoon wasted little time taking the lead for good. Wilke got his first of the game, beating Kraus five-hold on a breakaway just 58 seconds into the period. The score remained that way until the final three minutes when the Blazers scored twice.
Raiden Zacharias fired home a rebound on the powerplay with 2:27 to play. Wilkie then added his second goal with a quick backhand that came with 55 seconds remaining.
The Mintos made this interesting when Klassen scored on a one-timer just 44 seconds into the third period, but that was as close as Prince Albert came. Leo Seitz restored the three goal lead with 6:41 to play, giving the Blazers their fifth straight win.
The Mintos are off until the weekend when they travel south to Estevan for two games with the Bears. Puck drop is 8 p.m. on Saturday, and 2:30 p.m. on Sunday.
Their next home game is Wednesday, Oct. 26 when they take on the Battlefords Stars. Puck drop is 7 p.m.