Mintos on the brink after Game 2 loss

Prince Albert Mintos centreman Jaxon Tait (left) levels a Notre Dame Hounds defenceman during first period action at the Art Hauser Centre on Saturday. Despite goals from Tait and Josh Pillar, the Mintos lost 3-2 to the Hounds, who now lead the series 2-0. -- Jason Kerr/Daily Herald

A tough road just got tougher for the Prince Albert Mintos.

The local Midget AAA hockey club fell 3-2 to the Notre Dame Hounds in a feisty affair at the Art Hauser Centre on Saturday. The loss means the Hounds are one game away from claiming the Saskatchewan Midget AAA crown, while the Mintos were left to rue what might have been.

“I thought we gave them three goals on three mistakes,” Mintos coach Ken Morrison said afterwards. “The first one we just got out-battled on a face-off … and then we turned one over in our zone on the second one. Then the third one, we had a chance to get it out of our end and we turned it over there. That’s the difference in the game.”

After losing Game 1 in Notre Dame, the Mintos were looking for a bounce-back effort at home. However, things didn’t come easy.

Brad Morrissey opened the scoring for the visitors when his shot from the sideboards took a strange deflection and bounced past Mintos netminder Cale Elder.

The Mintos tied things up on the power play 10 minutes later, when Josh Pillar snuck in behind the Notre Dame defence and sifted a backhand past Hounds goalie Riley Kohonick.

Although the two teams left the ice deadlocked at one, Morrison said he would have liked to see more out of his club in the opening period.

“We’ve just got to do more getting the puck in and driving the net, and we’ve got to shoot the puck more,” he said. “Our defence have got to get more pucks to the net. We’ve got to get some greasy goals in front of the net, rebounds and stuff.”

Both teams traded scoring chances in a rough second period, but goals continued to be hard to come by. Minto captain Kyrell Sopotyk had the best chance when he blew past a pair of Hounds defenders for a breakaway and fired a shot just over the crossbar.

The Hounds broke the deadlock less than a minute into the third when Ethan Ernst capitalized on some sloppy Minto play defensive play for a quick goal and a 2-1 lead.

However, the Mintos fought back to tie the game up with their second power play goal of the night. Jaxon Tait tipped in a Jaden Mayer point shot for his third of the playoffs, but the jubilation was short-lived.

Notre Dame replied with a power play goal of their own at 2:21, when a Josselin Dufey one-timer beat Elder low to the glove side. The goal held up as the winner, giving the Hounds a 2-0 series lead.

Cale Elder made 33 saves for the Mintos, while Riley Kohonick stopped 15 shots for the Hounds.

Despite the loss, Morrison remained upbeat after the game, and confident in his team’s ability to bounce back.

“I like our guys’ attitude in there,” he said. “They’ve been determined all year. They’ll bounce back and give it their best effort. (Notre Dame) is a good team. When you’re watching you can tell they’re good. We’ve got a big task at hand, but it can be done.”

Game three in the best-of-five series is scheduled for Mar. 28 at Duncan McNeill Arena in Notre Dame. Puck drop is 7:30 p.m.

Game four, if necessary, will be played in Prince Albert at the Art Hauser Centre on March 30.