The Prince Albert Mintos’ first round series with the Warman Wildcats shifts back to Warman for an all important game three on Friday after Danton Cox’s overtime heroics in Prince Albert tied the series at one.
If the Mintos win, they can close out the series at home on Sunday for game four. If they lose, they’ll have to win at home in game four, and head back to Warman to win game five. However, head coach Tim Leonard said they they’re trying not to look too far ahead.
“We’re just going into Warman, and we want to win this game tomorrow night,” Leonard explained. “We just want to take it shift by shift, and we won’t look at it any further than that. We have a task at hand on Friday night, and we’re going to try to get it done.”
With their victory in game two coming on Sunday, the Mintos have had four days to practice and put together any gameplan heading into Friday’s battle. Leonard says it’s been a good stretch of practice, and the team is feeling confident heading into Warman for game three.
“This week has been really good,” he said. “The kids have some good energy and the last game was good for there confidence, no doubt. They’ve been really good in practice. We’ve tweaked a few things here and there, and we’re preparing them as best we can.
“We have to be mentally prepared and ready for the challenge, and we have to be physically ready, too. We’ve been saying we have to slow (Warman) down and try to keep them along the outside the best we can, and defend well. That’s where we can take advantage of their mistakes.”
Game one and two were both decided in extra time, with the Wildcats getting the upper hand in game one and the Minos winning in game two. Leonard says if they can get some powerplay chances in the game, that might give them an opportunity to find some separation.
“We haven’t had too many chances on the powerplay yet. If we could get some opportunities that way and get clicking, that will help us out. We also just have to bury some of our other chances. We had a few breakaways the last time we were there and we didn’t score. That’s what it’ll come down to. If we get our opportunities and make the best of them, it’ll make Warman play from behind and maybe we’ll see how they handle that adversity.”
Exhaustion might play a factor in game three as well for both teams. Although they’ve had all week to rest and prepare, it’s only a matter of time before fatigue sets in. With Sunday’s game time lasting over 90 minutes, players may start to get exhausted faster, and Leonard acknowledged that.
“I think that exhaustion probably won’t hit until the third period,” he said. “Warman’s at home, so they’ll be excited. They have a good team and they’re well coached, so they’re going to be ready. I think their key will to try to get up on us early, and take that advantage. But for the first five to 10 minutes in that rink, we just have to keep it simple and play our game. After that, things will calm down, and we’ll get settled in.”
Puck drop for game three at the Legends Centre in Warman is at 8 p.m.
The Mintos and Wildcats return to the Art Hauser Centre on Sunday night. If the Mintos win on Friday, they’II have a chance to close out the series at home in game four. Puck drop for Sunday’s contest is 7 p.m.