Mintos extend win streak with victory over Blackhawks

The Prince Albert Mintos celebrate a second period goal by Gabe Klassen (front right) at the Art Hauser Centre on Wednesday. The Mintos beat the visiting Beardy’s Blackhawks 6-1 to move into a tie for second place in the SMAAAHL. -- Jason Kerr/Daily Herald

Make it four wins in a row for the Prince Albert Mintos.

A pair of goals from Gabe Klassen and 22 saves from goaltender Spencer Welke helped propel the Mintos to a 6-1 victory over the Beardy’s Blackhawks at the Art Hauser Centre. The Blackhawks came into Wednesday’s contest riding a four-game winning streak of their own, but it was the Mintos who left with their run of victories still intact.

“I think we just played the right way together as a team, moved the puck and were conscious defensively,” Minto head coach Ken Morrison said afterwards. “That translates into some good offence.”

“I thought we came out of the gates pretty fast, which is what we need every game,” said Klassen, whose first period goal stood up as the game winner. “We played a full 60 minutes. That’s all we can ask for. It was big to get up early and not play from behind like last game.”

The Mintos dominated the first period, outshooting the Blackhawks 17-5 and jumping out to a 2-0 lead. Defenceman Jake Huska got Prince Albert on the board near the halfway mark of the first period with his second of the season. Klassen then made it 2-0 by banging in a rebound with just over a minute to go.

The Minto forward picked up right where he left off once play resumed in the second with a perfectly placed wrist-shot into the top right hand corner to make it 3-0.

“It was nice to get one late in the first period,” Klassen said. “Good forecheck by my linemates … and it just ended up coming right to me and I was able to get it out in front. The second one, we were playing low, me and (Ashton) Ferster and then it popped out to me and I made a nice shot. I thought I could maybe get the third one, but I couldn’t quite finish it off.”

“He played really good,” Morrison said. “I’m telling him it’s a game of inches. He’s worried about producing. He’s been producing at a point or game or better, but he has high expectations of himself. I’ve said it’s just the tiny little things that are preventing him from getting three or four goals a game.”

Beardy’s nearly cut Prince Albert’s lead to two at 8:34, but the goal was waved off due to goaltender interference. The Blackhawks had no such difficulties on the power play just four minutes later, when Joey Hockley’s point shot snuck through heavy traffic and beat Welke over the shoulder.

The Mintos spent most of the second period killing penalties, and only regained their three-goal lead when Chase Bertholet scored with 33 seconds left in the frame.

“I think we took a few too many penalties in the second there, and we’ve got to take that out of our game if we want to be consistent and beat the better teams,” Morrison said. “But like I told the guys, that was really the only negative thing that we could have done differently.”

Ethan Ironside goal on a cross-crease feed from Andrew Schaab made it 5-1 roughly eight minutes into the third period. Cohner Saleski then finished up the scoring in style, stickhandling around a pair of Blackhawks defenders before firing home his sixth of the season to make it 6-1.

The Mintos outshot the Blackhawks 37-23 and now sit tied for second place in the SMAAAHL with a 7-3-0 record.

Rookie Tyler Peterson made 31 saves for the Blackhawks, who fall to 5-4-2 on the year.

The Mintos are on the road this weekend for matchups with the Notre Dame Argos on Oct. 27 and Yorkton Maulers on Oct. 28. Both games start at 2 p.m. The next Minto home game is on Oct. 31, when they welcome the Tisdale Trojans to the Art Hauser Centre. Puck drop is 7 p.m.