Mintos preparing for an unusual fall camp

Lucas Punkari/Daily Herald Chase Bertholet makes a backhanded shot attempt on Joel Favreau during the Prince Albert Mintos training camp at the Art Hauser Centre last year.

Like everyone in the hockey world, the Prince Albert Mintos have been waiting to get back on the ice.

They will get that opportunity next weekend when they will hold their fall camp at the Art Hauser Centre on Saturday and Sunday.

However, the two-day event will be a lot different than in years past due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It’s going to be interesting,” Mintos team manager Kalen Wright said. “When it comes to having fans in the stands or even having our board members come out, we just don’t have the capacity to have anyone in the rink.

“With the provincial and city regulations, we can only have 30 people in the stands for any session and there are only 30 people that can be allowed on the ice at any one time. As a result, we’ve had to limit the amount of kids that we could invite and the size of the teams that we will have this weekend.”

Although there will be extra precautions and a lot more sanitization than in years past, Wright believes the weekend should work out well for all parties.

“One of the good things is that most of the kids have been skating all summer in other towns and cities, so it’s not like they are going to be put into a situation where this will be the time that they have been on the ice since March,” Wright said.

“I don’t think it will be an issue for them if they have to get changed at home or in the parking lot of the Art Hauser Centre, as they’ve gone through that already.”

There will only be a couple of spots up for grabs during next weekend’s camp, as the Mintos have already 18 committed players on their roster for the 2020-21 Saskatchewan Male Under-18 AAA Hockey League season.

“We’re excited about the group of players that we have coming to the camp,” Wright said.

“We have a good mix of guys that are ready to play in the league and that we expect to battle for those final spots. We also have several guys that are going to have a chance to be affiliated players for us and may crack the roster on a full-time basis during the next couple of seasons.”

Although fans won’t be allowed in the building for the scrimmages, the team is hoping to broadcast the on-ice activity on their Facebook page.

“We’re going to run through some trials here over the next week to make sure that we can have that set up for Saturday evening and for our last scrimmage on Sunday afternoon,” Wright said.

Regular season schedule yet to be finalized

The next action for the Mintos is still up in the air at the moment, as the league has yet to announce a full schedule for the upcoming campaign.

“We’re hoping to get things started in the middle of October to November range, but nothing’s been confirmed as of yet,” Wright said.

“With the WHL (Western Hockey League) announcing a later start date in December earlier this week, that might push things back a little bit further for us, but nothing’s been decided as of yet.”