Winning in threes

Prince Albert celebrates an early season goal ---- Dustin Saracini/Daily Herald

The Prince Albert Mintos are off to a hot start in Calgary

If winning breeds confidence, the Prince Albert Mintos are currently on cloud nine.

Armed with 15 rookies, the green and yellow are making a name for themselves early on in this years prestigious Mac’s Tournament. They pitched a shutout against the Leduc Oil Kings in a 3-0 victory before duplicating their defensive efforts against the U18 Hungarian National team in a 2-0 win. The Mintos followed up the performances with a 5-1 route of the New Jersey Hitmen, setting themselves up for an opportunity at making the playoffs against the most elite midget teams around the world.

“I think we are playing our best that we’ve played,” head coach Ken Morrison said.

“I think there is still room for improvement, which is a good thing. We’ve had some good games, I think both our goalies have been really good … for us to be 3-0, I don’t think we thought we would be. We’ve come here with some pretty good teams in the past and haven’t had a lot of success. We are on a little bit of a role and the guys are having fun and they are enjoying it.”

Cale Elder kicked the tournament off with a 24-save shutout before his partner, Tye Morin, followed suit with 37 stops.

“Our goaltending is outstanding,” general manager Don Fauchoux said.

“It’s been absolutely Telus Cup material … It’s just unreal, the puck must look like a beach ball to those guys. They are coming across the net, they are playing their position well and are making every save. The only goal we did give up [to New Jersey] was a power play goal.”

Offensively, the Mintos are getting it done. Throughout the year they have been known for their offensive prowess, and are certainly showing it in this tournament. Logan Barlage has registered four goals and two assists in three games. Mitchell Girolami has been a pleasant surprise with three apples while Ty Mosiman has put up two goals and two assists. Although they are putting the puck in the net, it’s the work ethic they have displayed in their own end that shows their dedication to one another.

“[There has been] lots of help in front of the net,” Fauchoux said.

“Our forwards are doing an outstanding job of blocking shots. They’ve blocked more shots than we’ve probably had shots on net … [It’s been a] total team effort. They are sacrificing their bodies to make plays. The whole team is gelling.”

“[Kyle] Schneider and [Jacob] Leicht probably blocked about eight shots. So, it’s good to see, and you can see the other guys trying to do the same thing so it’s catching on,” Morrison added.

Moving forward, it’s about managing expectations and knowing the road ahead is more difficult than the one travelled.

“It’s game-by-game,” Morrison said.

“We’re going to have another tough one here [against the Calgary Flames] … it’s not an easy accomplishment to even make the playoffs. You have to be ready to go every game here, it’ll be a challenge for sure.”

Following the tilt against New Jersey, the Mintos made their way to Banff for some down time before the coaching staff treated the club to a healthy but large dinner. Well deserved if you ask me.

Prince Albert takes on Calgary at 6:15 p.m. tonight.