Mintos use big first period to secure first win of the 2023-24 season

Nathan Reiter/Daily Herald. The Prince Albert Mintos fell in their home opener on Saturday

The Prince Albert Mintos jumped out to a big lead and hung on for the win to earn their first victory of the 2023-24 U18 AAA hockey season.

Taite Donkin, Van Taylor, Jordon Abrametz, Raydr Wallington, and Will Whitter all had goals for the Mintos as they beat the Regina Pat Canadians 5-3 at the Art Hauser Centre Sunday afternoon.

“We wanted to play fast and quick and not give them time and space, especially in the neutral zone or coming out of their end, and we did that,” Mintos assistant coach Bryan Swystun said. “It was nice for the kids. They made some nice offensive plays and the finish was there, which is always nice to see. It’s nice to see them get rewarded.”

Jonah Sivertson led the visitors with two goals and an assist, while goaltender Jaidyn Shaw made 30 saves in a losing cause. Dayce Derkatch had the other goal for Regina, who beat Prince Albert 7-4 in the season opener for both clubs on Saturday.

“(It was) night and day from the day before,” Swystun said. “We wanted to attack quickly with possession, especially moving pucks through the neutral zone, gaining the offensive zone and being a threat. We didn’t want to be a dump and chase team today.

“I think we really came to play,” he added. “I think yesterday’s game, being our first game and really our first game overall with our team, the kids were a little bit nervous and it kind of showed. Today, we settled down.”

Sunday’s win wasn’t without its challenges. The Mintos jumped out to a 3-0 first period lead, then surrendered two second period goals on just five shots.

The Pat Canadians tied the game up at three early in the third on Sivertson’s second of the night, but the Mintos rallied with a powerplay goal from Wallington and a short-handed tally from Whitter to take the game 5-3.

“We didn’t give up,” said Mintos netminder Brady Holtvogt, who stopped 27 shots to earn the win. “When the momentum wasn’t going our way we kept on pushing. We didn’t let anything bother us.”

The Mintos wasted little time getting on the scoreboard. Just two minutes after the opening faceoff, Abinet Klassen forced a Pat Canadians turnover, then fed the puck to Konnor Watson, who found Donkin streaking through the slot for an early scoring chance. Donkin’s shot beat Shaw short side to make it 1-0.

The Mintos struck again with a similar goal roughly five-and-a-half minutes later. Kelan Simmonds beat a Regina defenceman to a loose puck, then fed a cross ice pass to Taylor, who also beat Shaw short side to make it 2-0.

Prince Albert made it 3-0 with just over four minutes to play in the opening period when Abrametz’s centring pass hit a skate and slid under Shaw’s pads for another goal.

“We knew we had to come out hard, and we did,” Holtvogt said of the team’s first period. “We weren’t going to let them win this one.”

Regina rebounded with a quick goal less than a minute into the second when Sivertson got in behind the Minot defence for a breakaway and beat Holtvogt glove side to make it 3-1.

The Pat Canadians added another with 4:07 to play in the period thanks to a bad Minto line change that led to a 4-on-1. Derkatch was able to sneak past the lone Minto defender, then beat Holtvogt with a backhand to make it 3-2.

Sivertson tied it at three with his second of the night less than five minutes into the final period, but that was the last goal the visitors would get. Wallington gave Prince Albert the lead for good when his point shot beat a screened Shaw on the power play at 11:16. Whitter added some insurance with 9:13 remaining by firing a wrist shot past Shaw while being checked from behind on a short-handed breakaway.

The Mintos are now off until Oct. 6 when they travel to Moose Jaw to take on the U18 AAA Warriors. Puck drop is 7 p.m. at the Moose Jaw Events Centre.

Prince Albert’s next home game is scheduled for Oct. 14 when they take on the Swift Current Legionnaires. Puck drop is 7 p.m. at the Art Hauser Centre.

News and notes

Minto defencemen Jordy Abrametz and Raydr Wallington both recorded their first SMAAAHL goals during Sunday’s game … Prince Albert dressed AP Connor Howe for both games against Regina … Minto regulars Teigan Semychyshen and Lincoln Rogers were not in the lineup for either contest … the Mintos were one of six teams to open their season over the weekend. Six other clubs have yet to play a regular season game with two teams, the Lloydminster Lancers and Saskatoon Contacts, playing an exhibition game Sunday night.

Around the SMAAAHL

The Tisdale Trojans scored four goals on nine shots in a wild second period, but still needed an eight-round shootout to beat the Estevan Bears 6-5 at Affinity Place on Sunday.

Lukas Borne was the shootout hero for Tisdale, while Eric Han led the Trojans with a hat-trick in regulation. Han also scored once in the shootout. Tisdale goalie Jackson Dunn made 37 saves in regulation and overtime, then stopped seven of eight Estevan shooters in the shootout.

Evhan Allan had Estevan’s lone shootout goal. He also chipped in with a goal and an assist in regulation.

The win gave Tisdale some closure after taking an 8-3 drubbing the night before. Chase Holt had a hat-trick for Estevan, while Kade McIvor and Gunner Moore chipped in with two goals each. Kade Perron made 25 saves to pick up the win.

In Moose Jaw, the AAA Warriors knocked off the Battlefords Stars 6-2 on Friday and 5-4 on Saturday.

The Stars roared back from a 3-0 first period deficit on Saturday to tie things up at four, but Dylan Duzan’s first goal of the season was the only one in the third period, giving Moose Jaw the victory.

The Stars were forced to kill off a five minute major in the third period after Ryder Ellis was ejected for kneeing. Moose Jaw goalie Luke McKechnie picked up the win, making 22 saves in the process.