Penalty kill gives Mintos a boost in 4-1 win over Moose Jaw

The Prince Albert Mintos made the most of their opportunities during a penalty-filled affair at the Art Hauser Centre on Saturday.

The Mintos were outshot 29-16 by the visiting Moose Jaw AAA Warriors, but skated away with a 4-1 win. While happy with the win, Mintos coach Tim Leonard said his team needs to stay out of the penalty box to have long-term success.

“We were probably short-handed for half the (second) period,” Leonard said afterwards. “It just takes the energy out of kids. It disrupts the lines. It disrupts the flow. It’s not good. We’ve got to know when to back off. Our discipline has got to get better if we’re going to have success down the road.”

The Mintos had to kill off nine power plays on Saturday, including double-minors for kneeing to Raydr Wallington in the first period and Abinet Klassen in the third. Konnor Watson also took a double minor for head contact, but that penalty was partially negated when Moose Jaw’s Connor Miller was penalized on the same play.

The Mintos were also without the services of top goal scorer Ashton Tait for a lengthy stretch after he received a two minute minor for roughing and a 10 minute misconduct with 4:19 to play in the second period.

The Warriors cached in just once on the power play, and by then the Mintos were already comfortably in the lead.

“I thought our penalty kill was really good, not that I’m happy to see that, but I’ll just say that it was a bright spot,” Leonard said. “We kept them to the outside. We did a good job taking away shooting lanes, and when they were firing pucks, our guys were going down and blocking it so it was good that way.”

Tait had two goals for Prince Albert, giving him seven on the season in just four games. Van Taylor and Owen Dyck rounded out the scoring with one goal apiece.

Jayden Kraus made 28 saves for Prince Albert to earn the win, while Ryan Bain and Ryan Kicks combined to stop 13 shots for Moose Jaw.

“We took a little more penalties than we’d like, but we all stuck together and fought through it, so it was a good win,” Kraus said afterwards.

“We’ve been coming a long really nice and getting a lot better throughout the season. If we keep with it and keep the hard work going in practices and games, I think there’s going to be a lot of good luck for us coming up.”

Tait opened the scoring for Prince Albert roughly nine minutes into the first period when Dyck sprung the Minto forward on a breakaway with a long tape-to-tape pass from his own end. Tait lifted a backhand past a sprawling Bain to give the Mintos the lead.

Taylor made it 2-0 less than two minutes later when he deposited a cross-ice feed from Tait past Bain’s outstretched pad.

The Mintos made it 3-0 near the midway point of the second period when Tait knocked the puck off a Warrior defenceman’s stick and broke in on a two-on-one with Logan Pickford. Bain stopped Pickford’s shot, but Tait picked up the rebound and fired it into an empty net.

The referees were at their busiest in the second thanks to a minor skirmish that broke out in front of the Minto net with 4:19 to go. It ended with Tait, Wallington, and Caden Dunn receiving minor penalties for Prince Albert, along with Rhett Perrin, Grady Hoffman, and Ryder Knutson for Moose Jaw. Perrin and Tait also received 10 minute misconducts.

The Warriors finally broke through the Minto defence with 9:11 to go in the third period. The Mintos failed to clear the front of the net after a Moose Jaw point shot, allowing Connor Miller to scoop up the loose puck and score.

That was as close as the visitors got, however. Owen Dyck restored Prince Albert’s three goal lead with an empty-netter with 1:41 to play.

The two teams are back at it again on Sunday. Leonard said they anticipate a solid push from the Warriors.

“Every double header, it doesn’t matter if you’re on the road or at home, they’re tough,” Leonard said. “I think the key is we’ve got to have a good start. If we have a good start, I think we’ll be successful.”

Sunday’s game begins at 1:30 p.m. at the Art Hauser Centre.

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