Contacts sweep aside Mintos

Lucas Punkari/Daily Herald Saskatoon Contacts blueliner Rylan Jockims and Prince Albert Mintos forward Dawson Springer chase after the puck at the Art Hauser Centre on Thursday night.

The Prince Albert Mintos saw their 2019-20 campaign come to an end on Saturday afternoon in Saskatoon as the host Contacts earned a 4-1 win to complete a three-game sweep of their Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League quarter-final series at Merlis Belsher Place.

“I thought it was a game that you could probably put in between our loss in Saskatoon on Tuesday and the triple overtime game at home a couple of nights ago,” Mintos head coach Danton Danielson said.

“We got off to a bit of a rough start with some penalty trouble and they put up a lot of shots, but nothing that was particularly dangerous. It did put us behind the eight-ball in terms of momentum until we tied it late in the second, but we fought hard until the end.”

Tye Spencer, who was the triple overtime hero for the Contacts in Game 2 at the Art Hauser Centre on Thursday, led the way once again for his team as he posted two goals and an assist to finish the series with six points.

His linemates Riley Heidt and Brayden Yager, who are expected to be top picks in May’s WHL Bantam Draft, also had strong showings on Saturday.

Yager, who also had six points during the three game affair, had a goal and an assist for the hosts, while Heidt completed a five-point series with a pair of helpers.

“The Contacts have two lines that are pretty much the equivalent to any other team’s first line in our league,” Danielson said. “They just out skilled us in this series.”

Alex Bernauer rounded out the scoring for the third seeded Contacts, who received a 19-save showing from Chase Hamm.

Turner McMillen, who led the sixth ranked Mintos in scoring during the series with three points, had the lone goal for the visitors on and Joel Favreau made 38 saves.

Saturday’s contest was the final one for Danielson in his rookie campaign as the bench boss for the Mintos, as he posted a 27-15-1-1 regular season record and led the team to a quarter-final result at the Mac’s Midget Tournament in Calgary over Christmas.

“In a lot of ways it was a season of change and a big part of it was me coming in to join the team, which I’m very grateful for the opportunity,” Danielson said. “It seemed like the changes just never really stopped for us. Things kept evolving as things went on, with some being to the positive side and some being to the negative.

“If you look at our lineup this season, the opening game of the playoffs was the first time that we had our entire squad intact. So when you look at the season as a whole, I feel like we were never really able to get settled into any sort of rhythm, which made things tough in trying to find some consistency.”

The word change can also be used to describe what the Mintos roster could look like next year, as the team will lose forwards Dawson Springer, Josh Peppler and Ty Bahm, defencemen Zane Florence and Kayden Skulmoski, plus goaltender Joel Favreau and Spencer Welke to graduation.

The team could also see a few returning players move on to the Western Hockey League as forwards Turner McMillen (Kelowna Rockets), Chase Bertholet (Winnipeg Ice) and Ashton Ferster (Medicine Hat Tigers) are all signed to standard player agreements, along with blueliners Chase Freidt-Mohr (Spokane Chiefs), Chase Pauls (Lethbridge Hurricanes), Tre Fouquette (Prince Albert Raiders) and Marek Schneider (Saskatoon Blades).

“Obviously we have a few guys that are aging out and a few two-year guys that have the chance to move up to the WHL if all goes well for them this summer,” Danielson said.

“It would be great to get all of those guys back, but our job is to develop them for the next level and we wish them nothing but success as they try to reach their goals.”

While the Mintos will now prepare for next season, the Contacts are now waiting to find out who they will face in the semifinal round next week.

Heading into Sunday night, the top ranked Regina Pat Canadians are tied at a game apiece with the eighth seeded Swift Current Legionnaires, the seventh ranked Tisdale Trojans have a 2-1 series lead over the second ranked Saskatoon Blazers and the fourth ranked Moose Jaw Warriors hold a 1-0 advantage over the fifth seeded Notre Dame Hounds.