Mintos keep playoff hopes alive at Mac’s Tournament

The situation is simple for the Prince Albert Mintos ahead of their final round-robin game at the Mac’s Midget Tournament in Calgary on Monday.

If the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League side can come away with a win over the Calgary Buffaloes in their Pool 1 finale at 12:45 p.m., they will earn a spot in the quarter-final round on Tuesday.

“Anything less than a win and we’ll be on our way home,” Mintos head coach Danton Danielson said.

“We got to see Calgary (who lead the pool with a 3-0 record) a little bit earlier this week and they are a good team. They aren’t the biggest team size-wise, but they are fairly fast and they have a lot of skill.”

After coughing up a three-goal lead in a 3-3 tie with the Lethbridge Hurricanes on Saturday, the 1-0-2 Mintos erased a two-goal deficit in the third period on Sunday to play to another 3-3 draw with the AK Bars Academy from Russia.

“It’s been the same old story for us in these last two games where we’ve struggled to put together a full 60-minute effort,” Danielson said. “In our game against Lethbridge, we were in control for the first 30 minutes, but we just kind of quit playing for whatever reason and we allowed them to claw their way back into the game.

“We had a really bad start against AK Bars and the shots were extremely lopsided (22-1) in their favour after the first period. We looked a bit shell-shocked out there, but after they (AK Bars) got their first goal, I thought that woke us up a bit and the game was pretty even after that.”

Josh Peppler potted a pair of goals to lead the way for the Mintos on offence, while Chase Bertholet tied things up with three minutes to go.

Joel Favreau turned in another outstanding performance in between the pipes as he turned aside 41 shots and received his second player of the game honours in the last three days.

“We were lucky to stay in the game and Joel allowed us to have the chance to figure things out after the first period,” Danielson said.

“Even though we were down 3-1 going into the third period, I liked our chances and the guys really showed a lot of character with how they were able to come back.”

Going into the final day of round-robin play, the Chicago Mission are the only team to have clinched a spot in the quarter-finals as they went 4-0 in Pool 2.

The winners of the five pools will earn a spot in the quarter-finals, along with the three teams that have the best records among the sides that end up in second place.

The tournament final will be held on New Year’s Day at the Scotiabank Saddledome.