Last minute goal caps Minto comeback over Battlefords

Prince Albert Mintos forward Will Whitter gets mobbed by his linemates after scoring the winning goal with 55 seconds left in Wednesday’s game against the Battlefords Stars. -- Jason Kerr/Daily Herald

It wasn’t the start the Prince Albert Mintos wanted, but they still got the ending they hoped for.

The Mintos overcame a two-goal third period deficit to beat the Battlefords Stars 4-3 at the Art Hauser Centre on Wednesday. Team captain Van Taylor said it was a gutsy win for the squad, even though it didn’t unfold the way they planned.

“It shows a lot of character,” Taylor said afterwards. “The boys here never quit, never stopped battling.

“Obviously, it wasn’t the start we wanted. Our first two periods were pretty sloppy, but we stuck to it and in the third we just kept pushing and we never quit.”

The Mintos entered the third period trailing 3-1, then rattled off two goals in just over a minute to tie the game at three. That set the stage for some late game heroics when Will Whitter tipped home a point shot with less than a minute to go, giving Prince Albert the win.

“I think we just played better on defence (and) all around, just played better,” Whitter said of the squad’s third period comeback.

“I thought we came out a little shaky in the first and second. After that second period we really got it going, had a lot of energy, had a good third period, did everything right, and got a big win.”

Joshua Henry made 26 saves to earn the win for Prince Albert, while Brady Carr stopped 31 shots in a losing cause for Battlefords.

Kale Margolis, Konnor Watson, and Taite Donkin had the other goals for Prince Albert, who improve to 9-3-1 on the season. The victory allowed them to stay one point ahead of the Estevan Bears for first place in the SMAAAHL. The Bears downed the Notre Dame Hounds 4-3 in overtime.

“I think we just need to be consistent,” Whitter said when asked about continuing that early season success. “(If we’re) working on the little things, and do everything right, we’ll be just fine.”

Wednesday’s game remained scoreless for most of the first period. Caleb Pockrant broke the deadlock when he pounced on a loose puck just seconds after Henry Thunderblanket hit the goal post to make it 1-0 Battlefords.

The Mintos wasted no time responding after the intermission. Taite Donkin beat Carr high blocker side just 18 seconds into the second period, knotting things up at one.

It stayed tied until just past the halfway point. Waylon Gardipy put Battlefords ahead at 8:10 after being left alone if front of the net for a one-timer. The visitors made it 3-1 when Devante Pratt beat Henry stick-side on a breakaway at 6:21.

Margolis brought the Mintos within one roughly five-and-a-half minutes into the third period on a wrist shot from the slot. Prince Albert then tied the game up a little more than a minute later when Watson beat Carr with a wrist shot from the top of the circle on the power play.

The two teams appeared headed for overtime until the final minute. Whitter fired a high shot that rattled around the glass and almost out of the zone. Donkin kept the puck in at the point and fired a shot that was heading wide of the net until Whitter tipped it in, putting Prince Albert ahead for good with 55 seconds remaining.

The Mintos are off until Friday when they take on the Yorkton Maulers in Prince Albert. Puck drop is 7:00 p.m. at the Art Hauser Centre.

Battlefords is off until Saturday when they take on Estevan.