Catching fire

© Nathan Kanter/Submitted Austin Lamotte battles with Matthew Flodell at the half-wall

Prince Albert Mintos extend winning streak, Logan Barlage named Player of the Month

The Prince Albert Mintos set out to be a team that could score by committee this year.

On Tuesday and in the Battlefords against the Stars, they did just that.

Coming into the tilt, both teams were riding hot streaks having swept their weekend series’, but when the final buzzer rang out at the Civic Centre, it was the Mintos walking away with a 5-2 win.

The victory makes it three in a row for the green and yellow while winning four of their last five games.

Kyrell Sopotyk, Kade McMillen, Jacob Leicht, Ty Mosimann and Austin Lamotte all found the back of the net, contributing to an already potent offence.

“If you’re a one-line scoring team, it’s easy for the other team to focus on shutting that down,” head coach Ken Morrison said following the contest.

“We prefer to have two or three lines scoring and teams can’t key on one person, it helps out … we try to split those guys up [Logan Barlage and Sopotyk] just to balance the lines out a bit, it’s been working so far in most games for us, so that’s a positive.”

Barlage’s hands were on display in this one, busting through the neutral zone before feeding Mosimann on a two-on-one opportunity. Mosimann fired a shot short side for his eighth of the campaign, handing the Mintos a two-goal lead heading into the third.

The goal came on the back of a strong first period, one that saw Prince Albert score three unanswered. Sopotyk started the game with a nifty juke in the offensive zone to give himself space for a breakaway. A forehand-backhand-shelf move started the offensive onslaught before McMillen and Leicht chipped in.

Following the three-goal first, the Battlefords chipped away, cutting the deficit to 3-2 before the Mosimann notch.

“In the third, we just had to get back to our game,” Morrison said.

“We got the three-goal lead and then we started changing the way we were playing and lost momentum. We had to battle to get it back.”

Lamotte provided the dagger at the 5:01 mark of the final frame, finishing off a solid pass from Sopotyk and snapping a shot that beat Lance Alm under his glove.

In the crease for Prince Albert, it was Cale Elder sporting another dominant effort, stopping 30 of 32 shots on net. He is now top five in the league in terms of save percentage (.926) and goals against average (1.98). With the win, his record stands at 12-7.

On deck for the green and yellow is a contest against the Beardy’s Blackhawks Dec. 8 at the Art Hauser Centre. Last time these two played it was the Blackhawks besting Prince Albert in a 3-1 tilt, but the team has been struggling as of late, holding down 10th in the SMAAAHL standings with a record of 8-11-0-2. Despite the recent struggles, Morrison said his team needs to come ready to play.

“They’re a good team. They will work hard, they’re no slouches,” he said.

“There’s no easy games in this league, that’s what guys have to understand … the guys are learning how to get ready to play and working on that consistency with every game and every player.”

The puck drops at 7 p.m. The Mintos will be accepting non-perishable food items or a cash donation to the food bank.

And the award goes to …

Following a huge November — one that saw 15-year-old Barlage manage 19 points over 11 games — the rookie was given the SMAAAHL Player of the Month honours.

“He’s a big guy and he’s got skill,” Morrison said.

“The biggest thing with him is he’s got a good attitude and he works hard. He just has that drive to get the puck in the net. It’s just a thing with him that he’s not going to be denied.”

Barlage currently leads the SMAAAHL in points with 17 goals and 20 assists.

Representing at the prestigious Mac’s Tournament

Come Boxing Day, the Mintos will be playing on the big stage in Calgary. Prince Albert joins the Regina Pat Canadians, Moose Jaw Generals, Notre Dame Hounds and the Saskatoon Contacts of the SMAAAHL as they battle it out for the top AAA spot.

The Mintos are in a pool with the Calgary Flames, New Jersey Hitmen, Hungarian National U-18 Team and Leduc Motor Oil Kings.