Mintos prepared for playoff matchup against Regina

Nathan Reiter/Daily Herald. Prince Albert Mintos forward Carter Cole leads the fly by during SMAAAHL action at the Art Hauser Centre

The 44-game regular season has come to a close in the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League, and the Prince Albert Mintos have punched their ticket to the postseason.

The Mintos finished the regular season with a record of 23-18-0-3 and have secured the seventh seed in the playoffs. Prince Albert will face the second seeded Regina Pat Canadians in the first round, Regina finished the season with a record of 33-6-0-5 finishing only a single point behind the top ranked Saskatoon Blazers.

Mintos head coach Tim Leonard says the team will look to give Regina a run for their money.

“I think we’ve finally come together as a group. It took a little while. There’s a steep learning curve for a lot of kids, but early January, we had things settle in place, things have been good. Kids are buying in, and their work ethic is phenomenal. it’s fun to watch.

“As for Regina, they are a heavyweight team, no doubt about it, but I like the way we’re playing and we’re not going to back down. We’re going to go give them all they can handle.”

When playing on home ice this season, the Mintos have been nearly unbeatable posting a record of 19-3-0-0. Wins away from Prince Albert have been more difficult. The Mintos are just 4-15-0-3 in games played away from the Art Hauser Centre.

Leonard says a win on the road in game 1 would provide a huge confidence boost to the Minto lineup.

“I think we’re going to need to win on the road, there’s no doubt about it. With where we sit in the standings, we got to win on the road, so that’s our focus.

“We had a tough go early in the year on the road, didn’t play that well, but I think we’ve figured that out. We’ve been really good at home, so if we can get a win on the road, I think the kids will have some confidence turning that through.”

In the head to head matchup this season, Regina has taken three of four games from the Mintos. The only Minto win in the season series came back on Nov. 26 in a high scoring 6-5 contest at the Art Hauser Centre.

Leonard says the Mintos are looking for a series win with the slate from the regular season wiped clean.

“The wins and losses from the regular season don’t matter. So, I think our kids are going to be up to the challenge.  We’ll just take it game by game and shift by shift and see if we can steal one on the road. We’ve got the goaltending to do it I believe, so we’ll just go from there.”

The Pat Canadians roster features two Prince Albert Raider prospects in 2022 first round selection Luke Moroz and 2022 third round pick Dayce Derkatch.

Game 1 of the series will take place on Friday night in Regina. Puck drops at 7:45 p.m. The series will shift back to Prince Albert on Sunday afternoon with Game 2 puck drop taking place at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday afternoon.