Fight to the finish

Tempers flare during the closing moments of Sunday’s game between the Prince Albert Mintos and Swift Current Legionnaires. The Mintos spotted the Legionnaires a three goal lead, but came back to win 4-3 on Dawson Springer’s late power play goal. -- Jason Kerr/DailyHerald

It’s wasn’t how they drew it up, but the Prince Albert Mintos will take it.

The Mintos spotted the visiting Swift Current Legionnaires a three-goal lead at the Art Hauser Centre on Sunday before roaring back for 4-3 win. Gabe Klassen, Turner McMillen, Chase Friedt-Mohr and Dawson Springer all had goals for the Mintos, who head into Wednesday’s showdown with the Beardy’s Blackhawks riding a three-game winning streak.

Minto head coach Ken Morrison said it wasn’t the prettiest victory he’s seen, but he was more than happy with how his team responded to the adversity.

“I told them I was proud of them and the way they stuck with it,” a relieved Morrison told reporters after the game. “We just kept chipping away. We definitely learned some things today that we’ve got to improve on—holding that one goal lead at the end and things of that nature—but I guess that’s why you play the games.”

“I think it just says that when we’re down it doesn’t really affect us too much,” added Springer, whose power play goal with a little more than three minutes left put the Mintos up for good. “We just keep going and get it done at the end of the day.”

Sunday’s contest stayed scoreless until the 12-minute mark of the first period when Reed Jacobson put Swift Current ahead with his fourth of the season. Riley Dekowny added another with 4:18 to go, giving the visitors a 2-0 advantage heading into the first intermission.

An unlucky bounce gave the Legionnaires a 3-0 lead less than four minutes after the period started. Hendrik DeKlerk’s point shot deflected high into the air before landing in behind Minto goaltender Carter Woodside and trickling into the net.

At the other end of the ice, the Mintos were able to generate scoring opportunities, but struggled to solve Legionnaire netminder Jacob Herman.

“I thought we had lots of chances early that we didn’t convert on,” Morrison said. “Things didn’t seem to be bouncing our way, but they (Swift Current) played well.”

That changed with 8:41 left in the second when Klassen deposited a rebound behind a sprawling Herman during a delayed penalty. The goal was a controversial one, with Swift Current head coach Darren Evjen protesting that an offside should have been called after a Minto player failed to keep in a clearing attempt just moments before the goal.

The tally gave Prince Albert some much-needed life, and their efforts were rewarded with 2:23 left in the period. McMillan scored shorthanded on another strange bounce, this one off a Blake Duquette wrist shot that missed the net, then ricocheted off the backboards and out the other side where McMillan happily banged it in.

The Legionnaires had a chance to restore their two-goal lead early in the third when Prince Albert’s Gavin Ingram received a five-minute major for boarding on a dangerous looking hit. Ingram also received a game misconduct.

Despite the advantage, the Legionnaires failed to generate any offence and the Mintos made them pay late in the period. With just 5:14 left in the game, Friedt-Mohr’s harmless looking point shot deflected off a Swift Current defender’s arm and fluttered into the net.

It was Friedt-Mohr’s first goal at the Midget AAA level, and indicative of just how frustrating an afternoon it was for defenders on both squads.

“It was for sure two weird bounces there for goals,” Morrison said when asked about the goals from Friedt-Mohr and DeKlerk. “I guess that’s why you shoot the puck. You never know what’s going to happen.”

Frustrations boiled over for the Legionnaires following a tripping penalty at 4:37 to Chase Gallant. The officiating crew tacked on a bench minor after a few vocal complaints from the visitors, giving Prince Albert a 5-on-3 power play with less than five minutes to go.

Springer was only too happy to make the Legionnaires pay. The Minto forward circled the offensive zone with the puck before firing a wrist-shot past Herman from the high slot.

“I was just looking for someone to get open and they let me (skate) around,” Springer said. “I just had to shoot it. It went off a couple of shin pads and found its way into the net.”

Tempers flared late in the contest, leading to a large scrum behind the Mintos net and a 6-on-3 powerplay for Swift Current to end the game. Woodside was forced to make a big save after a Legionnaire found himself all alone in front following a scrambled draw. The Minto goalies finished with 29 saves on the night while Herman made 28 stops for the visitors.

“It was an interesting game,” Morrison said. “I thought it was a good game. (Swift Current) played well (and) I thought our guys gave a pretty good effort for the most part. We took a couple untimely penalties that didn’t help us, but for the most part I was happy.”

The win gives Prince Albert a 6-3-0 record heading into their next game on Wednesday when they take on the 5-3-0 Beardy’s Blackhawks at the Art Hauser Centre. Puck drop is 7 p.m.