Mintos return to win column

Lucas Punkari/Daily Herald Prince Albert Mintos forward Andrew Schaab celebrates with his teammates after scoring a first period goal against the Saskatoon Contacts Thursday at the Art Hauser Centre.

Some time away from the rink may have been just what the Prince Albert Mintos needed.

Coming off losses to the Saskatoon Blazers and the Tisdale Trojans ahead of Thanksgiving weekend, the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League club was off for almost two weeks before travelling to the North Battleford Civic Centre Tuesday.

With a 6-1 win that night over the Battlefords Stars, and a 7-3 triumph against the Saskatoon Contacts Thursday at the Art Hauser Centre, the Mintos find themselves with a 5-3 record and are tied for fourth place in the standings with the Moose Jaw Generals.

“That break helped us out a lot,” Mintos forward Ethan Ironside said. “We’re clicking as a team a lot more now and our chemistry is really starting to build.

“We’ve been having some good practices and it’s carried over to our games with these two wins here. We’re getting better each time we play and hopefully that continues.”

The team’s cohesiveness is something that head coach Ken Morrison has noticed, especially as the players are starting to understand their tendencies.

“You pick the team at the start of the season and then your starting to play meaningful games just as everyone is getting back from SJHL and WHL camps without getting a lot of practice time in,” Morrison said.

“That extra time we’ve had has helped us out for sure. We’ve really played as a team in both games this week and the guys are starting to buy into the things we want them to do out there.”

Thursday’s matchup with the Contacts was a tightly contested affair until midway through the third period, as the Mintos scored four unanswered goals in the final 12 minutes.

“We came out of the room flying,” Ironside said.

“We all believed in ourselves and we were moving our feet to get those goals. Once we got one, it just kept going from there.”

Two days after earning his first career WHL point with the Prince Albert Raiders, Cohner Saleski led the way for the hosts with two goals and an assist.

That performance was highlighted by a dazzling goal in the opening frame as Saleski undressed a Contacts defender on a rush down the wing and fired a backhanded shot that went over the shoulder of goaltender Chase Hamm and underneath the cross bar.

“That was by far his best game for us,” Morrison said. “We’ve moved him out on the wing and he seems to like it there.

“Him and (Turner) McMillen have some good speed and they are really working well together right now.”

Ironside and Andrew Schaab had a goal and an assist each in Thursday’s triumph, which saw Spencer Welke make 28 saves.

Blake Duquette, Jake Huska and Ashton Ferster also scored for the Mintos.

Riley Girod paced the Contacts on offence with a pair of goals and Caleb Cherry also found the back of the net.

Hamm turned aside 27 shots for the visitors.

McMillen had a goal and two assists to lead the way in Tuesday’s win in North Battleford, which saw Schaab dish out three helpers and Dawson Springer score twice.

Duquette, Ironside and Ferster also found the back of the net and Welke made 27 saves.

Luke Fennig had the lone goal for the Stars, who received a 28-save performance from Carter Serhyenko.

The Mintos will continue a three-game home stand at the Art Hauser Centre Sunday when the Swift Current Legionnaires will come to town for a 1:30 p.m. contest.