Mintos lose 5-4 to Warriors in special teams battle

Minto forward Zachary Bansley celebrates after scoring in the second period tying the game 2-2 Friday night at the Art Hauser Centre. --Kyle Kosowan/Daily Herald

Seven of the nine goals scored in Friday night’s contest between the Prince Albert Mintos and the U18 Moose Jaw Warriors were scored on the powerplay. Prince Albert came just one goal short, falling 5-4 in the first half of a back to back. The Mintos went 3/11 on the man advantage, with multiple 5 on 3 opportunities, while the Warriors went 4/7.

Mintos assistant coach Bryan Swystun felt with all of the penalties, the pace of the game was thrown out the window.

“Anytime that you get a game like this where there’s a lot of stoppages for penalties, it takes the flow of the game away. Every time you have a powerplay it can lift your team up if you’re successful, and if you’re not, it’s tough to crawl back from. I think tonight we tried to implement the things we’ve been working on and it just seems like a puck bounced wrong. We were trying to execute what we’ve been working on, and sometimes it work, sometimes it doesn’t, and tonight was tough for us.”

Moose Jaw got the first powerplay of the game and just 4:36 into the game on the man advantage, Orin Olson walked in and ripped a shot past Mintos starter Ty Shumanski, giving Moose Jaw the early edge.

The Warriors found themselves up 2-0 early into the second period, but the Mintos climbed back into it, tying the game with a pair of powerplay goals just over three minutes apart on goals from Ryan Lepitzki and Zach Bansley.

Moose Jaw answered with two goals 36 seconds apart late in the middle frame, with both tallies on the powerplay. Connor Miller scored to put the visitors up 3-2, and Liam Fitzpatrick followed up with another tally, and the Warriors went into the second intermission with a 4-2 lead.

Ty Shumanksi saw his night come to an end after the second period, as he was replaced between the piped for the third by Jayden Kraus. Shumanski allowed four goals on 22 shots in the contest.

Moose Jaw welcomed Kraus into the game with a goal 1:29 into the third period. Blake Betson found his way into the goal column in this one after picking up an assist in the second period, and put the Warriors up 5-2.

The Warriors, now up by three goals, looked to have the game in their hands until they ran into penalty trouble throughout the entire third period. With a slough of penalties all around the same time, the Mintos found themselves on a 4 on 3 man advantage, and wasted no time cutting the deficit. Danton Cox scored with 6:42 remaining, making it a 5-3 Moose Jaw lead, and Prince Albert quickly grabbed control of the game again.

Less than three minutes later, Ryan Lepitzki found the back of the net for his second goal of the game, bringing the Mintos back to within one goal, and lots of time left to tie it.

“Ryan’s one of those kids that just works hard. That’s his game and he prides himself on being in the right place at the right time. He doesn’t score a ton, but he does a lot of the little things right. It’s nice to see him get rewarded for the opportunities that he gets.”

With under two minutes left and Kraus on the bench for the extra attacker, the Mintos made a late push to find the equalizer. Despite moving the puck and creating chances in the offensive zone in the dying seconds, the Warriors held off the late surge, picking up the win.

“We had a good feeling throughout the game (to win),” Swystun said. “We had our chances, we were moving the puck okay, but we just seemed to fumble it at times. I think there was a bit of fatigue, especially when you have that many special team situations. We didn’t quit, we played through some adversity tonight and it just seemed to be one of those games.”

These two teams will square off in a rematch on Saturday night, and Prince Albert will be looking for a better overall performance.

“We have to come out tomorrow and be a determined hockey club,” Swystun added. “Moose Jaw was good on the PP and we weren’t, and that was the difference in the game no matter how you look at it.”

Puck drop for the rematch on Saturday is 7pm from the Art Hauser Centre.