Mintos close out regular season home schedule with 4-2 win

The Prince Albert Mintos celebrate a 4-2 victory over the Warman Wildcats at the Art Hauser Centre on Saturday, Feb. 17, 2024. -- Jason Kerr/Daily Herald

The Prince Albert Mintos ended their last home game of the 2023-24 regular season on a high note with a 4-2 win over the Warman Wildcats on Saturday.

The win moves the Mintos within two points of the Swift Current Legionaires for fourth spot in the SMAAHL standings with just three games to go before the playoffs.

“It was almost into that playoff type style (game),” Mintos coach Tim Leonard said after the win. “(The) kids worked hard. We made a bad turnover in the first period to give them that first goal. After that, I thought we cleaned it up and played a pretty solid game.”

Will Whitter led the way for Prince Albert with a goal and an assist, including the game winner less than three minutes into the third period. Whitter said the club is peaking at the right time, but needs to remain focused to stay successful.

“I think we’ve been playing decent for the last few games,” Whitter said. “We cut down on the mistakes. (That) really helped us, and we scored when we needed to.

“We just need to limit the penalties. We’re all working hard. We all want it in here, and Brady (Holtvogt) played awesome tonight. If we all play good, we’ll go far.”

Taite Donkin and Konnor Watson had second period goals for the Mintos, and Abinet Klassen added an empty-netter late in the third to seal the win. Beckett Hamilton and Liam Bursaw had the goals for Warman.

Brady Holtvogt made 25 saves for Prince Albert in a winning cause, while Corben Schnurr stopped 35 shots in the Warman goal.

Leonard said the Mintos got stronger as the game went on, and were able to force more turnovers in the second and third periods, which led to more scoring chances.

With just three games to go until the playoffs, Leonard said they club’s goal remains the same: making opponents work for everything they get.

“Every game we want to get better and improve and cut down on those bad mistakes and the bad turnovers and just be tough to play against,” “If you’re tough to play against, you’re going to be tough to beat.”

Hamilton opened the scoring for Warman roughly five minutes into the first period after Cade Hynd forced a turnover at the Minto blueline. Hynd fed the puck cross-ice to Hamilton, who snapped a wrist shot over Holtvogt’s shoulder to make it 1-0.

The Mintos answered back early in the second when Donkin corralled a loose puck and slid it under a diving Schnurr to make it 1-1.

Watson put the Mintos ahead for good with less than a minute to go the second period. Whitter raced the length of the ice and stripped a Warman defenceman of the puck before feeding it out front to Watson, who was all alone in the slot.

Whitter added the eventual game-winner on the power play less than three minutes into the third. He grabbed the puck off a scrambled faceoff in the Warmen end and fired the puck top shelf to make it 3-1.

The Wildcats made it 3-2 with 13:46 to go, when Bursaw beat Holtvogt five-hole with a wrist shot, but that was as close as the visitors got. The Mintos outshot the Wildcats 18-5 in the third period, and sealed the game with an empty-netter from Abinet Klassen.

The Mintos are off until Monday when they travel to Warman for a rematch with the Wildcats. Puck drop is 2:15 p.m.

They then close out the regular season with road games against the Regina Pat Canadians on Feb. 23, and the Notre Dame Hounds on Feb. 24.