Preview: Mintos ready for balanced Pat C’s

Prince Albert Mintos goalie Cale Elder (30) makes a save on Regina Pat Canadians forward Jaydon Dureau during a shootout in the teams’ Oct. 7, 2017 game from P.A. -- Evan Radford/Daily Herald

Regina club has home-ice advantage for best-of-five semifinal series

The Prince Albert Mintos are set for the second round of playoffs in provincial Midget AAA Hockey League action, which starts Thursday in Regina.

The P.A. club will face off against the Pat Canadians, with a chance to play in the league finals on the line.

Regina has the regular season-series edge, winning three games to Prince Albert’s one game.

The Mintos beat the Pat Canadians 3-2 in a shootout on Oct. 7.

Regina then won the next three contests between the two teams, 5-3 on Nov. 25, 5-2 on Dec. 2 and 4-2 on Feb. 3.

Looking to the semifinal playoff series, coach Bryan Swystun said he expects to see a well-balanced Regina team, much like the Mintos have seen all year.

“I don’t think anything’s going to change … they’re a well-rounded team. They’re deep, with four good lines,” he said. “I think for our benefit, we’re coming in on a little bit of a high. We’re playing well.”

The Mintos swept the Saskatoon Contacts three games to none in the quarterfinals to reach this series. In each of those games, the Contacts mustered only one goal on the Mintos. P.A. netted 11 scores against Saskatoon.

Swystun said part of that recent success, extending back into regular season play in February, is disciplined, focused play on the part of his team.

“We know that sometimes these series, sometimes at this time of year, come down to one or two mistakes. So that’s what we’re trying to key our guys on, is to try to play mistake-free as much as possible, because (the Pat Canadians) are very opportunistic.”

On the defensive side of the ice, alternate captain Kade McMillen said he expects that his defensive unit will have to contend with Regina’s skilled forwards.

“We’ll have to shut them down, but kind of just stick to our game and make them adapt, rather than adapt to their game.

“We’re good in our d-zone … we break the puck out well, and we move from defence to offence well.”

One such forward the Mintos defencemen will need to watch is Jaydon Dureau, who won this year’s league MVP award.

Through those four regular season games, Dureau scored seven times on the Mintos.

“We’ll do what we can to shut him down, but we’re not going to change our game too much.”

Regina Pat Canadians defenceman Adam Herold (10) checks Prince Albert Mintos forward Luke Nkwama (7) during the teams’ Oct. 7, 2017 regular season game from P.A. — Evan Radford/Daily Herald

McMillen underscored that if the Mintos want to find success against the Pat Canadians, they need to stay out of the penalty box and play even-strength hockey.

“If we do that, I like our match-up.”

Offensively, fellow alternate captain Austin Lamotte said he and the other P.A. forwards need to get pucks deep into Regina’s zone and grind down its defencemen.

“Try and keep pucks low, dumping it, always making them turn back and make them work.”

Like McMillen, Lamotte said staying out of the penalty box is key to his team’s success.

As for gaining an edge on their opponents, he highlighted his team’s speed. “We’re really fast up front, so move the puck and go wide.”

To reach the semifinals, the Pat Canadians won their quarter-final matchup against the Yorkton Rawtec Maulers three games to one.

There are now four teams remaining the Midget AAA league’s playoffs. Each semifinal series is a best-of-five series, with the higher seeded team having home-ice advantage.

The following list shows the second round matchups. The winner of each series earns a berth in the league finals.

Round 2:

  • (1) Notre Dame Hounds vs. (5) Swift Current Legionnaires
  • (2) Regina Pat Canadians vs. (3) Prince Albert Mintos

Mintos’ round 2 playoff schedule:

  • Game 1 – March 8, 7:45 p.m. at Regina’s Co-operators Centre
  • Game 2 – March 11, 7 p.m. at P.A.’s Art Hauser Centre
  • Game 3 – March 14, 8 p.m. at Regina’s Co-operators Centre
  • Game 4 (if necessary) – March 17, 7 p.m. at P.A.’s Art Hauser Centre
  • Game 5 (if necessary) – March 19, 8 p.m. at Regina’s Co-operators Centre