Mintos ready to take on Circle K Classic

Nathan Reiter/Daily Herald. The Prince Albert Mintos celebrate a goal during a home gamer earlier this season

The Prince Albert Mintos are ready to take on one of the most prestigious tournaments in Western Canada.

The Mintos received an invitation to the Circle K Classic (formerly known as the Mac’s Tournament) as one of the top-performing teams in the Saskatchewan Male AAA Hockey League (SMAAAHL).

Head coach Tim Leonard says he is excited for the exposure that his players will get out of the tournament.

“It’ll be just interesting to see where we stack up. There are nine teams from the states that are there, highly touted programs. The hockey academies are all there now, so I think it’ll just be a good measuring stick to see where we’re at, and the biggest part of it is that our guys are going to get a chance to showcase themselves, and hopefully that it opens some doors for them.”

Minto captain Van Taylor echoed the sentiment of his head coach when asked about the exposure the tournament will provide.

“Clearly there’s a lot of scouts there at the Circle K tournament, scouts from WHL to whatever, all junior hockey teams, and just puts a great exposure on all the guys. If you have a great tournament, there’s lots of scouts looking at you.”

Previous players who have gone to the Circle K Classic with the Mintos and have moved onto play at higher levels include Chase Pauls (Lethbridge Hurricanes), Chase Friedt-Mohr (Melfort Mustangs), Ashton Ferster (Kamloops Blazers) and Gabe Klassen (Portland Winterhawks).

Leonard says the Circle K is a great way for players to get a chance to play at the next level.

“It gives them an opportunity, the colleges in Alberta and BC, junior teams are going to be there scouting. It just gives them another opportunity. I’m not saying they have to leave the province, but maybe someone’s not showing as much interest here. They generate some out there. It opens a new door for them.”

The Mintos will be in Pool 2 and will play in the round robin portion of the tournament against OHA Penticton, the Calgary NW Flames and Shattuck St. Mary’s.

Taylor says the Mintos feel like they have a chance to make a deep run in the tournament.

“All the boys are excited. We know it’s a great tournament, great hockey teams, great players, and we’ll fit right in, and I think we have a chance of winning it. This year we got a bunch of older guys and more experienced in the league. We got some good depth on the team, and I think we could do some good damage.”

The Mintos kick off the Circle K Classic on Dec. 27 when they take on the Calgary NW Flames. Puck drops at 10:30 am Mountain Time.