Mintos roughed up by Contacts in season opener

The start of the 2020-21 Saskatchewan Male Under-18 AAA Hockey League campaign is one that the Prince Albert Mintos will want to forget.

The Saskatoon Contacts converted four of their seven power play chances and also scored a shorthanded marker on Sunday evening as they cruised to an 8-1 triumph in each side’s first game of the season at the SaskTel Centre.

“Everybody knows that the Contacts are a good team and they were as advertised,” Mintos head coach Danton Danielson said. “They have a solid group of players there with some impressive ability, which showed throughout the night.

“We have a bit of a younger team here that’s in a different place in our cycle compared to the Contacts and some of the other teams in the league, so there’s going to be some nights like this. With that said, I thought our guys did a good job of competition and we stuck with the process. We didn’t let the scoreboard dictate our effort level.”

The Mintos’ special teams performance is something that will be looked to be improved upon this week in practice, especially as they went 0-for-7 on the man advantage against the Contacts.

“We did a pretty good job in both the power play and the penalty kill in our two pre-season games against Tisdale, so there’s going to be those ups and downs along the way and you don’t want to overreact too much to just one game,” Danielson said. “We’re giving our guys a chance to learn here and it’s all about allowing them to grow over the course of the season and giving them opportunities.”

“When you look at the Contacts and what they were able to roll out on the ice with four WHL first round picks (Riley Heidt, Brayden Yager, Kalan Lind and Kevin Korchinski) on the same line, it’s going to present quite a challenge. I thought when we didn’t give them the chance to set thing up on the power play, I thought we did a good job on the kill, but our guys are still getting used to the systems a little bit and we saw that at times when Saskatoon was able to move the puck around.

Lind, who was the sixth overall pick by the Red Deer Rebels in April, led the charge for the Contacts with two goals and two assists each, while Kamloops Blazers prospect Luke Korte scored twice and dished out a helper.

Heidt and Yager, who were the second and third overall picks in the 2020 WHL Bantam Draft by the Prince George Cougars and the Moose Jaw Warriors respectively, each had strong performances.

Yager dished out three helpers for the hosts and Heidt had a goal and two assists.

Kelowna Rockets prospect Caden Price had a goal and assist for the Contacts, who also got offensive contributions from Saskatoon Blades draft pick Alex Bernauer and Seattle Thunderbirds prospect Korchinski.

Blades prospect Ethan Chadwick stopped 28 shots for the home side, with his lone blemish coming on a second period snipe by Raiders draft pick Dallyn Peekeekoot that was assisted by team captain Kody Willick.

Kris Johnson made 22 saves in a losing effort for the visitors.

The Mintos will look to bounce back on Saturday as they’ll visit the Tisdale Trojans in a 7:30 p.m. contest at the Tisdale Recplex.

The two sides will then square off again at the Art Hauser Centre on Sunday at 1:30 p.m.

“You can throw out the two results from our pre-season games (which the Mintos won), but there’s a lot you can take away from what we did well and didn’t do well,” Danielson said.

“There’s a lot of good things that we did in those two games, but there were also some things that we didn’t do well against Tisdale that we were actually better at on Sunday in Saskatoon.”

The Trojans dropped their season opener on Sunday as they suffered a 7-0 setback against the Saskatoon Blazers.

Sunday’s Scores

  • Notre Dame 5 Swift Current 2 (Braxton Whitehead (Regina Pats prospect) – Two Goals – Zane Winter (Red Deer Rebels draft pick) – 47 Saves)
  • Moose Jaw 7 Yorkton 1 (Atley Calvert (Moose Jaw Warriors prospect) – Three Assists)
  • Saskatoon Blazers 7 Tisdale 0 (Holden Doell – One Goal and Two Assists – James Venne – 24 Saves – First Career Shutout)
  • Battlefords 4 Warman 0 (Jackson Fellner – 41 Saves – Fourth Career Shutout (Three Last Season)
  • Regina 9 Estevan 1 (Blake Heward – Two Goals and Two Assists)

Friday’s Schedule

  • Notre Dame vs. Moose Jaw – 7 p.m.
  • Yorkton vs. Regina – 7 p.m.
  • Estevan vs. Swift Current – 7:15 p.m.
  • Warman vs. Saskatoon Contacts – 7:30 p.m.

Saturday’s Schedule

  • Saskatoon Blazers vs. Battlefords – 4:30 p.m.
  • Prince Albert vs. Tisdale – 7:30 p.m.
  • Regina vs. Yorkton – 7:30 p.m.