Mintos off to hot start in regular season

The Prince Albert Mintos celebrate a win at the Art Hauser Centre. -- Herald file photo.

The Prince Albert Mintos are 6-2 to start their 2020-21 campaign, their best start to a season since 2016, when they also went 6-2.

Four of those six wins this year have come against the Estevan Bears, including two last weekend in Estevan. On Saturday, Prince Albert played their first overtime game of the year, coming out with a 4-3 win over the Bears, then followed with a 3-2 shooutout win on Sunday.

“The ones down in Estevan were a litte tougher,” Minto head coach Tim Leonard said. “We were shorthanded, but we sure showed a lot of character. I thought the kids were relentless for 120 minutes in Estevan, which was awesome to see, and hopefully it shows what kind of character this team is made of.”

The Mintos were struggling early on Saturday, trailing 3-1 after the first period, with two of those goals against coming on the powerplay. However, they were able to rebound, thanks to second and third period goals from Nate Misskey and Jacob Cossette, who has been on a tear to start his season.

Travis Swanson scored the winner for the Mintos at 3:43 of overtime. It was Swanson’s second goal the season, and gave Prince Albert their fifth win of the year.

Swanson found the scoresheet again on Sunday in part of a 3-2 shootout win in Estevan, scoring the winning goal in the shootout for the Mintos.

The game was scoreless heading into the third period, before the Bears scored two quick ones to go on top 2-0 with under eight minutes left in regulation. Then Cossette and Nate Misskey scored less than a minute apart with five minutes to go to tie the game.

A scoreless overtime would send the Mintos to their first shootout game, where Cossette would score again, followed by Swanson’s clincher, giving the Mintos their fourth straight win, all coming over the Bears.

Leonard said his guys are still learning new things every game.

“Lots of kids are new to this league still,” he explained. “It’s a tough league and one of the best in Canada. With that, every game is a battle. Our guys have come prepared every night. So far the kids are learning that anybody can beat anybody, and I was proud of them this weekend.”

Ty Shumanski and Jayden Kraus split weekend duties between the pipes, with Shumanksi making 16 saves in Saturday’s win, and Kraus making 22 saves, plus two more in the shootout in Sunday’s victory.

Meanwhile, Minto rookie Ashton Tait has been off to a hot start to his 15 year old rookie season, putting up six points in seven games to begin the year. The Mintos were without Tait on Sunday, as he travelled to Red Deer, as he will be taking part in this week’s WHL Cup. Leonard explained Tait’s impact on the team so far this year.

“He’s a big part of our offensive unit. He plays a 200 foot game,” Leonard said. “He’s incredible to coach and I can put him out in any situation. But while he’s gone we have others that can eat that offensive time up while he’s gone, and we’re playing with a next man up attitude.”

Next up for the Mintos is a double date with the Swift Current Legionnaires on Saturday and Sunday in Swift Current; the last two games of a four game road trip for PA.

“Our special teams have to come into play this weekend,” Leonard said ahead of this weekend’s games. “We have to stay out of the box and when we get chances on the powerplay we’ve got to get it going. We just need to tune those two areas a bit, and we’ll find ourselves having more success.”

Puck drop in Swift Current on Saturday is at 8pm.