Kraus, Tait lift Mintos to shootout victory over Contacts

Nathan Reiter/Daily Herald Prince Albert Mintos goaltender Jayden Kraus gets into position during SMAAAHL action at the Art Hauser Centre on Feb. 1, 2023

The Prince Albert Mintos were able to get scoring at just the right time on route to a 2-1 shootout win over the Saskatoon Contacts at the Art Hauser Centre on Wednesday night.

Minto head coach Tim Leonard says that Prince Albert got a solid effort up and down the lineup

“I thought we played well. Everyone pitched in and it was a solid effort. Trouble scoring again and we had to pull the goalie. We found a way to win which is awesome.”

The Minto forecheck was strong throughout the night as it would stump a high scoring offense in the Contacts.

Leonard says the forecheck made the Contacts uncomfortable which the Mintos took advantage of.

“I thought our forecheck was good. We established it early, they are a team that likes to play a fast paced style and airmail pucks up. We tried to look after that and force guys to move pucks in their zone. I think we created a little chaos while we did that.”

Both teams would play strong defensively through the first period and the Contacts would break the seal with just 1:10 remaining in the second period. 

Ronan Buckberger would fire a point shot through traffic and past Minto netminder Jayden Kraus to give Saskatoon a 1-0 lead after two periods of play.

The clock was ticking into the final minute and it appeared that the Mintos would suffer yet another shootout loss, but with just 54 seconds remaining, Ashton Tait would strike for his 9th goal of the season to bring the Mintos even at 1-1.

60 minutes and overtime wasn’t enough to decide a winner between the Mintos and Contacts, so a shootout would be needed.

The first shooter from each team couldn’t find the back of the net and the second shooter for the Contacts, Kanye Huang would be denied by Jayden Kraus.

That set the stage for Ashton Tait who used a nifty backhand move to beat Contact goaltender Chase Wutzke to give the Mintos the advantage in the shootout.

Ronan Buckberger, the goal scorer for the Contacts in regulation had a chance to send the shootout to another round. But Jayden Kraus would stand tall in net, turning aside the attempt to secure the win for the Mintos.

Leonard says that Kraus, along with goaltending tandem mate Brady Holtvogt have been solid for Prince Albert all year long

“You can always count on him, when we do make a mistake he is usually there to shut it down. All year he and Holtvogt have been solid for us. I don’t remember a game all season where they let us down. They give us a chance to win every night and that’s what is expected.”

Kraus made 25 saves on 26 Contact shots in regulation and stopped all three shooters in the shootout to secure the victory in net for the Mintos.

Kraus says that the Mintos were able to feed off each other’s energy and are hoping to string together more wins in the month of February

“Our whole team was good up and down the lineup tonight and we all just built off each other. A big win tonight, and that’s just one of many that is coming our way. Big night for us and we are all super pumped.”

Chase Wutzke stopped 21 Minto shots in regulation for the Contacts.

The Mintos return to action on Saturday night when they welcome the Yorkton Maulers to the Art Hauser Centre. Puck drops at 7 p.m.