Mintos receive invitation to Circle K Classic

Herald File Photo. The Prince Albert Mintos celebrate a goal during a home game earlier this season

The Prince Albert Mintos are headed to Calgary.

The Mintos were one of 32 teams from across North America to receive an invitation to the Circle K Classic (formerly known as the Mac’s Tournament) in Calgary from Dec. 27-Jan. 1.

Minto head coach Tim Leonard says receiving an invitation was a goal for the team from the start of the season.

“The kids, they earned the right. There are three teams from Saskatchewan going and I’m pretty proud of the kids for earning that. They’ve worked hard for it and it’s well deserved.”

The last time the Mintos attended the tournament was back in the 2019-20 season where the team featured the likes of Gabe Klassen, Chase Bertholet, Ashton Ferster and Chase Pauls who have all gone on to play in the WHL.

Leonard says he is excited for the Mintos to attend the tournament to get exposure to scouts at higher levels of hockey.

“That’s what I’m excited about for these kids. We’ve got a great group in the dressing room again and they’re going to get an opportunity to showcase themselves and possibly open some doors for them.”

The Mintos earned the invitation thanks to their strong start in the Saskatchewan Male AAA Hockey League (SMAAAHL), going 12-6-1, good enough for 25 points and the top spot in the league standings.

Leonard says he is impressed by the Mintos start due to the amount of parity he has observed in the league so far this season.

“We had a good start and we’ve maintained that. It’s probably the toughest I’ve ever seen this league from 1 through 12. I know Yorkton’s at the bottom there, but they’ve had so many injuries that it’s not even fair to them. On any given night, anybody can beat anybody. It just shows what our kids are doing. They’re working hard and having success with that effort.”

Only three teams from the SMAAAHL received invitations to the tournament. The Warman Wildcats and Swift Current Legionnaires will also be attending the tournament.

As a result, the Mintos will be seeing many of the teams at the tournament for the first time this season.

“You don’t know a lot about the teams. There are nine American teams there. The caliber’s going to be quite high. But I feel like we’ve got a team that can go out there and compete. That’s what we’re going to focus on, that we go out there and compete and play the best that we can play.”

The schedule for the Circle K Classic has yet to be announced.