After a convincing 7-1 win Thursday night at home over the Battlefords Stars, Prince Albert Mintos head coach Ken Morrison was worried that some bad habits were starting to creep into his team’s game.
Those concerns became a reality over the weekend as the Mintos dropped a 10-5 decision on the road to the Beardy’s Blackhawks Saturday night and then were upset in a 3-2 overtime affair against the Yorkton Maulers at the Art Hauser Centre Monday Afternoon.
“We’re getting away from our team game and the guys are trying to individualistic out there,” Morrison said. “We need to learn how to play as a group, otherwise we are going to struggle.
“We have guys buying in to what we are doing, but when they see other guys not doing the same thing, that gets really frustrating.”
Although they fired a number of chances late in the third period against the Maulers, it was a case of too little too late for the Mintos as it took them quite awhile to get back into gear after the game was tied at two goals apiece following the first period.
“It wasn’t a pretty game,” Morrison said. “I thought we started okay and that second goal by Yorkton (which came off a dump-in from Maulers defenceman Rylan Donald) was a strange one, but that shouldn’t be the difference in the game.
“We had some chances to take the lead but we didn’t bury them. Yorkton kept believing and we allowed them to stay in the game.”
Monday’s triumph was a huge one for the basement dwelling Maulers, as they snapped a 16-game losing streak and improved their record to 2-18.
“I’m really proud of the guys and the work they’ve put in lately,” Maulers head coach Kevin Rawlick said. “It’s a young team but they’ve never complained about things during this streak. They kept putting the work in and never found an excuse.”
Josh Peppler, who is a draft pick of the La Ronge Ice Wolves, was the hero for the Maulers as he fired a wrist shot past Carter Woodside just 77 seconds into the extra frame.
“Carter Dereniwsky popped out the puck and I was able to take it wide and get the shot off,” Peppler said. “After I saw it go in the net, everyone just went crazy.
“We’ve had some close games lately and it felt great for us to finally come together as a team and get a win.”
Donald and Brandt Fiske had a goal and an assist each for the Maulers, who received a 29 save performance from Aiden Elmy.
Turner McMillen and Alex Von Sprecken responded for the Mintos, while Woodside made 27 saves.
During Saturday’s game against the Blackhawks at the Willow Cree Memorial Sports Centre, the Mintos were in a back-and-forth affair until they gave up three goals in the late stages of the second period to fall behind 7-4.
“It was a 4-4 tie but it seemed like we’d get a penalty every time we touched someone and things just snowballed from there,” Morrison said.
“In today’s game with Yorkton, we took a four-minute penalty when we were on a power play and those types of things aren’t going to help you win games.”
Nolan Doell scored four times to lead the offence for the Blackhawks as the La Ronge Ice Wolves prospect now leads the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League in scoring with 31 points in 17 games.
Ryland McNinch had two goals and two assists in the win, which also saw Ethan Neufeld, Aaron Greyeyes, Griffen Ryden and Robert Pizzey score.
Tyler Peterson made 23 saves to earn the win for the Blackhawks, who are tied for fourth with the Mintos and the Regina Pat Canadians in the league standings on 21 points.
Prince Albert Raiders prospect Cohner Saleski led the way for the Mintos with a goal and two assists.
Dawson Springer, Gabe Klassen, Ashton Ferster and Von Sprecken also scored in the loss, which saw Spencer Welke make 38 saves before he was pulled in the third period.
Woodside turned aside five shots in nine minutes of relief work.
The 10-6-1-0 Mintos will return to action Thursday night as they’ll go on the road to take on the 9-5 Saskatoon Contacts.
They will return to the Art Hauser Centre Sunday for a 1:30 p.m. clash with the 9-2-2-1 Regina Pat Canadians.