It will go down as one of the more unorthodox wins in franchise history, but with only three games left in the season, the Prince Albert Mintos will take it.
The Mintos were leading the Battlefords Stars 3-2 with 9:57 to go in the third period when a pipe burst in the Art Hauser Centre rafters overtop the west end seating area. The resulting deluge forced officials to stop the game, and the league awarded the Mintos the win rather than rescheduling the remaining 10 minutes.
“It’s not the way we wanted to win out, but I guess we’ll take it,” Mintos assistant coach Bryan Swystun said afterward. “Battleford played well. This is their last game (of the season) and they came out, and they didn’t lay back.”
The win was Prince Albert’s third straight. The Mintos are now 7-1-0 since the start of February, and three points behind the Notre Dame AAA Hounds for seventh in the league standings and four points behind the Warman Wildcats for sixth.
The Hounds lost 4-1 to Yorkton on Wednesday while the Wildcats beat Tisdale 5-2. Both Notre Dame and Prince Albert have three games remaining on their schedule. Warman has two.
The Mintos and Wildcats meet on Friday at the Legends Centre in a game that was rescheduled after being postponed on Nov. 5. The Mintos and Hounds then meet at the Art Hauser Centre on Sunday before Prince Albert closes out the season against the Saskatoon Contacts on Monday.
Swystun said the Mintos have played much better over the past two months, and they’ll need to continue their strong play during a tough final weekend.
“The three games coming up here on the weekend, we have to win those games,” he said. “Our goal is to get sixth place. It’s within reach, and that’s where we would like to finish.
“Is there pressure? We just want to continue to play well and we put a little streak together here probably since Christmas time. We started to score some goals, started to believe in ourselves, and we just want to carry that on.”
Logan Pickford, Carson Olsen, and Abinet Klassen had the goals for the Mintos, while Cohen Noreikat and Kaden Veller responded for the Stars. Brady Holtvogt made 20 saves for Prince Albert to earn the victory, while Matthew Ofukany stopped 30 shots for the visitors.
Swystun said the Mintos did a good job of generating scoring chances, especially in the first period where they outshot the Stars 17-6, but the club needs to do a better job of turning those shots into goals.
“We had some good quality chances, good speed on the puck on those chances, and you know, their goalie either (stopped) them, made a good save or (we) hit the post,” he said. “If we would have capitalized a couple more times in the first, it would have been a little bit different—take the wind out of their sails—but I thought we moved the puck okay.”
The Stars opened the scoring roughly four minutes into the first period. Noreikat took a pass at centre ice, skated into the Prince Albert zone, and wired a wrist shot over Holtvogt’s glove to make it 1-0.
The Mintos struck back less than a minute later. Ashton Tait stole the puck from a Battlefords defenceman and fed Pickford, who beat Ofukany stick side to tie things up.
Prince Albert took the lead near the midway point of the first period when Olsen blew past a Battlefords defenceman and faked a shot on goal before skating behind the net and beating Ofukany with a wraparound.
The score remained 2-1 Mintos until late in the second period when Veller’s wrist shot squeezed past Holtvogt and trickled into the net. However, the Mintos took the lead for good with 1:28 left in the period when Klassen grabbed a loose puck in the slot and fired it past a diving Ofukany for the game winner.
The two teams played a scoreless 10 minutes of the third period before officials stopped the game due to a water pipe break.
The Mintos are off until Friday when they take on Warman at the Legends Centre. Puck drop is 8 p.m.