Mintos score early and often for big win in season opener

The Prince Albert Mintos didn’t fire many shots on goal during Saturday’s home opener at the Art Hauser Centre, but they didn’t need many to get the win.

The Mintos scored six times on 21 shots, including three goals on eight shots in the second period, en route to a 6-1 win over the Swift Current Legionnaires.

“It’s just a good solid effort,” Mintos head coach Tim Leonard said. “We did some really good things for this early in the season. We’ve only been practicing for about four days as a group, so we’re pretty happy with it.”

Penalties were a big reason the shot total favoured Swift Current, but the final score didn’t. Prince Albert took 20 minutes in penalties, and was forced to go on the penalty kill six times.

The Mintos held Swift Current scoreless on the man advantage, while tallying one power play goal of their own.

“I would say penalties probably hurt us (and) slowed the momentum down,” Leonard said. “We had good flow, and then it was always a penalty, but in saying that, our kill was pretty good and our power play had some good looks tonight too.”

Logan Pickford led the way for the Mintos with two goals and an assist, while goaltender Jayden Kraus returned from training camp with the Victoria Royals to stop 31 of 32 shots for the victory.

Pickford spent last season with the Saskatoon Contacts, and was happy to pick up a win in his first regular season game with his new team.

“It feels unreal,” he said. “I was just looking forward to getting our first win, and hopefully we’ll continue to get more.

“I thought we did really good just getting shots through traffic and staying physical and just creating lots of good offence.”

The Mintos wasted little time taking the lead, scoring their first goal just 1:34 into the first period.

Forward Konnor Watson gained the zone and spun away from a Legionnaires defenceman before hitting the late man, defenceman Logan Beebe, with a cross-ice pass. Beebe glided in all alone on goal and beat Swift Current goalie Jacob Morris blocker side to make it 1-0.

Watson cashed in with a goal of his own on the powerplay late in the first period. The Minto forward gained the zone and beat Morris with a wrist shot from the top of the circle to make it 2-0.

The Mintos scored three times in the second period before Swift Current could get on the board. Pickford opened the scoring with another early goal, this one coming 1:22 into the second period, when he deposited a rebound into a wide-open Swift Current net after Van Taylor hit the goal post.

Pickford added his second of the night roughly five minutes later when he found himself all alone in front with the puck after Roper Blanchard forced a turnover.

Sam Grosso made it 5-0 Mintos before Swift Current broke Jayden Kraus’ shutout bid. Eri Hoiness’ goal with 58 seconds left in the period made it 5-1, but Scott McLean added an unassisted goal for Prince Albert to put any hopes of a comeback to sleep.

The two teams are back at it again on Sunday at the Art Hauser Centre. Leonard said they’re taking nothing for granted, despite the big win on Saturday.

“It’s tough—I don’t care who it is or where it is—to sweep a doubleheader,” he said. “It’s always tough, but our plan is to get on them early tomorrow (Sunday). Maybe they’ll be a little played out, (and) we get on them early and get them thinking about getting on that bus instead of playing.”

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