The Prince Albert Mintos have had a busy week, signing seven players to contracts for the 2022-23 season.
One of those players signed was 17-year-old Roper Blanchard, who will return to his hometown to finish his U18 career.
Blanchard was a fixture in the Prince Albert Pirates U15 program. In two seasons with the team he put up 41 points in 44 games. Picked up by the SMU18AAAHL’s Yorkton Maulers in the 2020-21 season, Blanchard didn’t suit up for any games during the COVID-19 shortened year. He spent his first season with the Maulers during the 2021-22 campaign, playing in 44 games, putting up three goals and ten assists.
With experience at the U18AAA level, Blanchard will be a leader on the Mintos next season, in what will be his final year playing hockey in Prince Albert. The SJHL’s Battlefords North Stars have his rights.
Mintos’ player signings
Prince Albert’s first signing this week was for goaltender Brady Holtvogt. The Humboldt product spent the 2021-22 season with the U15AA Humboldt Broncos, helping the team advance to the second round of the playoffs. In the first round against the Saskatoon Generals, the Broncos won the best of three thanks largely in part to Holtvogt’s performance between the pipes. In games two and three, the 14-year-old put in 55 and 58 save efforts.
Holtvogt turns 15 in July, and will likely spend most of the 2022-23 season in the shadow of Mintos goalie Jayden Kraus. With the departure of graduating goalie Ty Shumanski, the Mintos took care of the goaltending hole with this signing.
The Mintos described Holtvogt as “a calm and poised goaltender who competes and prepares like a professional.”
In 33 games with the U18AA Saskatoon Riverkings, Sam Grosso was nearly a point per game player. He tallied 30 points (18G-12A), helping the Riverkings finish the regular season in first place in the Centre Four standings. In three games during the playoffs this season, Grosso had one goal as the Riverkings were upset by eighth seeded West Central in the first round.
The Saskatoon product enjoyed his first full season, after playing just seven games combined from 2019-21 with the U15AA Saskatoon Bandits and Saskatoon Stallions.
The Mintos describe Grosso as “a smart, smooth skating forward with good instincts around the net and plays a responsible 200 foot game.”
Joining the Mintos from the Indigenous Sports Academy in Saskatoon, Watson is coming off of an impressive 2021-22 season. In 34 games with the team, Watson finished third in team scoring with 31 points (17G-14A) in 34 games.
The 15-year old already has a 6’1, 190 lb frame, and will be a dangerous threat from his rookie year to his graduating year, and the Mintos recognized that.
“At 6’1, 190 lbs, the fluid skating Watson can be a difficult matchup for any defense corps with his long reach and good shot.”
The Mintos continued their signing streak going on Thursday, when they announced the commitment of 16-year-old defenceman Carson Olsen. Olsen spent the 2021-22 season with his hometown Warman Wildcats, where he played at the U18AA level.
In 31 games he scored three goals and added 16 assists. His 16 helpers were third best among team defencemen. His Wildcats team finished second in the Centre Four standings with a 23-5-2-3 record. Warman fell to West Central in the second round of the playoffs. Olsen had a goal and an assist in six postseason games.
“Carson is a smooth skating, puck moving defender that plays hard at both ends of the ice,” the Mintos said in a statement.
Patterson, a 17-year-old forward, spent the past two seasons with the U18AA Northeast Wolfpack. The Rose Valley, Sask product led the Wolfpack in scoring in the 2021-22 season, registering 41 points (22G-19A) in 33 games. He also led the team, and finished with the fifth highest penalty minutes in the Centre Four division with 108.
In three playoff games this season, Patterson led the team in scoring again with seven points (3G-4A).
“The 6’3, 173lb forward plays the game hard and fast and likes to score goals. Nolan’s hard nosed style of play will make him a favourite amongst Mintos fans,” the Mintos said in a statement.
The 14-year-old Cole was another young signing for the Mintos. The Edam, Sask product spent the 2021-22 campaign with the U15AA Northwest Stars. Cole led the team in scoring with 44 points (17G-27A) in 30 regular season games. He also made three appearances with the Battlefords Stars in the SMAU18AAAHL.
Turning 15 in July, the Mintos hope Cole will be a young offensive spark for the team.
“Carter’s fast pace and physical style of play will be a great addition to the Mintos lineup in 2022-23,” the team said.