Valiant effort by short-staffed Mintos against Trojans

Lucas Punkari/Daily Herald Prince Albert Mintos forward Gabe Klassen lunges for a loose puck while battling Zac Robins of the Tisdale Trojans at the Art Hauser Centre Tuesday.

The Prince Albert Mintos found themselves in a tough situation Tuesday at the Art Hauser Centre.

Not only were they facing a Tisdale Trojans side that is challenging for first place in the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League standings, but they were doing so without three players (Alex Von Sprecken, Logan Cox and Cohner Saleski) due to suspensions and injuries.

Meanwhile, the team was also without head coach Ken Morrison, who was serving the second of a three game suspension for a game misconduct bench penalty he received against the Notre Dame Hounds on Nov. 24.

Despite those issues, the Mintos hung in all night long against the Trojans, but were not rewarded for their efforts as they dropped a 3-2 decision on home ice.

“We were worried about the compete level coming into this game, as our guys have been off for a little bit,” said assistant coach Bryan Swystun, who was referring to a 10-3 road loss the Mintos had nine days ago against the Saskatoon Blazers.

“They took care of any of those questions as they played hard and brought a good effort. We missed three breakaways, but that’s the way the games go sometimes. We played well against one of the better teams in the league.”

Although the final shots ended up being 38-19 in favour of the Trojans, that was partly due to the fact that the Mintos found themselves on the penalty kill on six occasions.

“Our penalty kill has been good as of late, but the odds can be stacked against you when you have to go against their power play that many times,” Swystun said.

“They gave us quite a lift on the bench with well they played tonight and the way they went about things. The shots were a little lopsided in their favour, but I don’t think that really reflects the level of play in this one.”

Prince Albert was able to get six power play chances of their own during the game, but they were only able to capitalize on a single chance.

The Trojans took the lead for good on the man-advantage with 10:27 left in the third, as Skylar Olson’s one-timer floated over Mintos goalie Carter Woodside and into the back of the net.

Tisdale’s penalty kill unit would come up big at the end of the game, as they killed off a six-on-four Mintos power play over the final 87 seconds after Dylan Ashe was called for hooking.

“Our main goal was to try and take shots away from them there, especially with (Mintos captain Alex) Ozar on the point, as he has one of the best shots in the league,” Trojans head coach Darrell Mann said.

“In the end though, we were able to get the puck out of danger and our goalie (Tanner Martin) had a clean look on their shots, which made the difference.”

Kalen Ukrainetz and Davis Chorney also scored for the 18-3-2-1 Trojans, who have won two straight games and are now just two points back of the Blazers for first place in the standings heading into a road game with the Beardy’s Blackhawks Thursday.

“It was kind of an up and down game as there were a lot of turnovers on both sides,” Mann said.

“I have to give Prince Albert a lot of credit as they really made us work for this win.”

Andrew Schaab provided the offence for the Mintos as he scored both of his team’s goals.

“He’s often setting things up for his teammates, so it was good to see him capitalize on a couple of opportunities,” Swystun said.

Dawson Springer, who had his Western Hockey League rights dealt by the Everett Silvertips to the Swift Current Broncos a day earlier, had assists on both of Schaab’s goals.

Woodside made 35 saves in a losing effort, while Martin stopped 17 shots for the visitors.

Next up for the 11-10-1-0 Mintos, who are in a four game losing streak and have a six-point lead over the Moose Jaw Generals for the final playoff spot in the league, is a road game Thursday against the Blazers.

They will then visit the Regina Pat Canadians Saturday and the Generals Sunday before hosting the Saskatoon Contacts next Tuesday night at 7 p.m.