Mintos proud of late-game push against Pat Canadians

Lucas Punkari/Daily Herald Prince Albert Mintos assistant captain Karson Blanchette controls the puck during the final minutes of the third period against the Regina Pat Canadians on Sunday afternoon at the Art Hauser Centre.

While they came out on the wrong end of a 5-3 decision to the Regina Pat Canadians on Sunday afternoon, the Prince Albert Mintos third period performance could pay dividends as the season goes on.

In their second game of the weekend to kick off the 2021-22 campaign at the Art Hauser Centre, the Mintos clawed back from a 4-1 deficit in the late stages of the final frame and were close to finding the tying goal before Pat Canadians forward Ben Riche potted an empty-netter with nine seconds to go.

“We didn’t quit,” Mintos head coach Tim Leonard said. “The guys could have quit when we got down there, but they stuck with it and we made it interesting towards the end.”

“We battled hard right until the final buzzer today,” rookie forward Ashton Tait added. “It was a brutal bounce there that led to the empty-netter, but it is what it is. We have a game on Wednesday against Warman, so we have to get ready for that.”

The Mintos, who opened up their Saskatchewan Male Under-18 AAA Hockey League slate on Saturday with a 7-2 home triumph over the Swift Current Legionnaires, are also getting used to one another in this early stage of the season as players return from Western Hockey League and Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League camps.

“(Assistant coach) Bryan (Swystun) and I haven’t had a full roster in practice yet,” Leonard said. “The guys are still getting used to playing with each other, but this is a great group of kids and it’s been great to work with them so far.”

“I think (blueliner) Nate (Misskey) just got off the plane (from Victoria Royals training camp) before coming here this weekend,” Tait added. “This was a good weekend for our first time together and I think we’re going to be a really tough team to beat after we get some practices in.”

Mintos captain and Portland Winterhawks defensive prospect Rhett Ravndahl led the way for the hosts as he had a three-assist afternoon.

Jacob Cossette dished out a pair of helpers in the contest, which saw Danton Cox, Ryland Martin and Misskey all find the back of the net.

“Everyone’s chipping in for us and that’s awesome to see,” Ravndahl said.

“I think our team’s looking great already. We played hard against two tough teams, but we need to keep playing relentlessly if we want to have a good season.”

Riche, who is a Moose Jaw Warriors prospect, earned his first career hat trick on Sunday to help the Pat Canadians improve to 2-0.

Zayden Sadlemyer also had a strong showing for the visitors as he had a goal and two assists to move into a tie with Cossette for the early league scoring lead with five points.

Noel Englot and Koen Senft had two assists each in the triumph, which saw Luke Cote light the lamp and Regina Pats goaltending prospect Kelton Pyne stop 28 shots.

Jayden Kraus made 24 saves for the hosts in his first Under-18 start.

The 1-1 Mintos will be back in action on Wednesday evening as they’ll host the Warman Wildcats in a 7 p.m. matchup at the Art Hauser Centre.

That will mark the third game in a six-game homestand to start the season for the club, as they’ll take on the Wildcats again on Saturday, Oct. 2 before welcoming the Estevan Bears to town for a pair of games over the Thanksgiving weekend.

“The biggest thing we’re working on is our consistency,” Ravndahl said. “That’s the most important thing to focus on right now.

“We want to keep a steady pace throughout the season. We don’t want to be in a situation where we have a bunch of highs and lows.”

Sunday’s Scores

  • Battlefords 4 Yorkton 2 (Rylan Williams (Lethbridge Hurricanes Draft Pick) – Two Goals)
  • Warman 5 Estevan 1 (Jaydon Jessiman – Two Goals)
  • Saskatoon Blazers 8 Saskatoon Contacts 2 (Luke Dahlen (Eligible for the 2021 WHL Draft) – One Goal and Two Assists)

Wednesday’s Schedule

  • Estevan vs. Moose Jaw – 7 p.m.
  • Warman vs. Prince Albert – 7 p.m.
  • Saskatoon Blazers vs. Battlefords – 7 p.m.
  • Yorkton vs. Notre Dame – 8 p.m.