It wasn’t a guarantee that Taite Donkin would be a Prince Albert Minto, or even play in the Saskatchewan Male AAA Hockey League (SMAAAHL) this season.
The 17-year-old Saskatoon product had tried out for the Saskatoon Contacts, Saskatoon Blazers and Warman Wildcats and was cut from all three programs.
Donkin was prepared to make the jump to play in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League (SJHL) with the La Ronge Ice Wolves before he received a phone call from Minto general manager Kalen Wright offering a chance to fill the final roster spot in Prince Albert.
The Mintos were short a player after Logan Pickford was signed by the WHL’s Victoria Royals and broke camp with the team.
Minto head coach Tim Leonard says Donkin has exceeded expectations and been a dangerous addition to the Prince Albert lineup.
“He’s fit right in on that first line with Margo (Kale Margolis) and Nelly (Owen Nelson) and compliments them and he’s a good power play guy. He’s 17 years old and sometimes they get overlooked, but I’m just glad we got the opportunity to give him a chance. He’s made the best of it. It’s on him.”
Donkin has been scoring above a point per game pace for the Mintos this season, posting 11 goals and 17 assists for 28 points in just 23 games played, putting him tied for sixth in league scoring.
Donkin gives a lot of credit to his line mates Owen Nelson and Kale Margolis and says they all bring they all bring different strengths.
“I think all of us have something unique that we can all bring to the table and all our assets together just combine perfectly. Nelson can put the puck in the back of the net. Margolis is a big body who can win battles and put the puck in the net. I think I’m also a guy that can help them and move the pucks around deep and cycle the puck and get it to them. We create a lot of offense from that.”
Donkin is no stranger to being a top scorer as he posted 34 goals and 62 points in 33 games last season for the Saskatoon Screaming Eagles in the U18 AA ranks a year ago.
Donkin says the keys to his success this season has been his skating and how he approaches the game mentally.
“I think my speed and my willpower, wanting to get the puck, wanting to win, and just overall having a good mentality and always having a winning mentality would be the driving factor for my success, I’d say.”
After being cut from multiple programs at the start of the year, Donkin says he is playing with a chip on his shoulder this season wanting to prove that he deserves his spot in the league.
“We played Warman in a pre-season game at the start of the year. That was a game that really kind of lit the fire to start the season for me. I scored two goals in that game and just tried to show all those coaches that I deserved to play in this league.”
As a 17-year-old, Donkin is in his final season of eligibility at the U18 level. Donkin says he hopes to pursue playing hockey at a post-secondary level.
“I feel as a 17-year-old kid, the Western Hockey League might be an option, but I’ll only have two or three years of eligibility there. I think for me, it’s probably best if I go the junior A route and try to get a scholarship somewhere to play hockey.”
The Mintos return to action on Saturday afternoon when they take on the Warman Wildcats at the Art Hauser Centre. Puck drops at 1:30 p.m.