West 5 - Pacific 4 (3rd overtime)
By Justin MacNeil and Jonathan Russell
The Prince Albert Mintos took home the gold medal, beating the Calgary Buffaloes 5-4 in the Telus Cup final.
Captain Ron Meyers scored the overtime goal 12 minutes into the third period of overtime to seal the deal for Prince Albert, making them Canada’s number one ranked AAA Midget squad.
“It’s an amazing feeling, undescribable really,” said Meyers after the game. “To finish up like this is just awesome.”
The game was the longest game in the history of Midget AAA Nationals.
“They’re the hardest working team in Canada. That’s why they won it,” said coach Tim Leonard.
The first period started strong when a pass from behind the net seconds in from Mike Connolly found the stick of Jamie Paulsen for an early Calgary opportunity, shut down by Mintos goalie Dustin Tokarski.
Connolly scored the first goal of the game after a nice pass from Markiewicz on the powerplay found Jordan Eberle in the slot.
Eberle’s shot rang the post, leaving the puck for an eager Connelly, who deked Tokarski and buried the puck five-hole.
Prince Albert evened the score minutes later when a point shot from Mickey Pawlyshyn was tipped by Adam Matlock to find the bottom corner of the net.
A nice block from Connolly at the Prince Albert blueline sent him on a breakaway, stopped by Tokarski with seven minutes left on the clock.
Shifty moves from Jamie Paulsen at the Mintos blueline kept the puck in the offensive zone for a well executed Calgary attack.
A quick break into the slot set up Mitchell Smith for a shot on goal late in the first, sent wide by Tokarski.
The first period ended 1-1.
Fourteen seconds into the second period Matlock fired a shot on net, deflecting onto the stick of Ron Meyers for Prince Albert’s second goal.
Less than a minute later, Robertson broke into the Calgary zone and rifled a low wrist shot through the five-hole of Calgary goalie Jacob DeSerres, making it 3-1.
A far side wrist shot from Smith was sent wide off the shoulder of Tokarski seven minutes into the second.
An interference penalty by Calgary forward Tylan Stephens at the eight minute mark led to a powerplay goal for Prince Albert.
Robertson sniped a bullet from the slot when a pass from Taylor Theissen found his stick after a brilliant powerplay execution from the Mintos.
Calgary struck back when an awesome individual effort from Mark Lyons put him at the top of the slot for a slapshot, blowing by the blocker of Tokarski half way through the period.
The period ended 4-2.
Connelly fired the first shot of the third, blocked by Tokarski 20 seconds in.
Calgary continued to pour on the pressure, forcing a Prince Albert penalty.
The powerplay ended scoreless four minutes into the second after a few key saves from Tokarski.
A Calgary opportunity halfway through the period led to a great defensive effort from Tokarski and Theissen, keeping the puck out to secure their two goal lead.
Minutes later, a point shot from Calgary defenceman Nick Mohn was scooped up by Tokarski to stop an all out attack from Calgary.
Still, they continued to push, working the Prince Albert zone for another quality opportunity, blocked by Tokarski with eight minutes to go.
Less than a minute later, Connolly busted up the wing into the Prince Albert zone and slammed on the breaks for a cross-ice pass to Jordan Eberle, who wired it top corner, bringing the game within one goal.
Calgary tied it up with less than four minutes to go in the game when Connolly tipped a point shot from Jared Collister past Tokarski.
A sliding poke check from Jamie Paulsen broke down an aggressive Prince Albert attack with less than two minutes left on the clock.
Prince Albert spent the last minute of the third period in the Calgary zone before the buzzer sounded with the score even at four a piece.
The goal light lit up two minutes into overtime when Matlock sniped the post with a blistering wrist shot. The referee blew his whistle, calling it no goal.
Two minutes later, a busting Connolly was robbed when he ripped a shot for the top corner.
Two minutes left in overtime, a shot from the slot by Robertson was steered aside by DeSerres.
Seconds later, Connolly was yanked down on a breakaway by Bobby Spigott leading to a late Calgary powerplay.
The first period of overtime ended scoreless.
The second overtime period started with momentum from Calgary, getting shut down by Tokarski three times in the first minute.
Prince Albert went into attack mode four minutes in, foiled by DeSerres with a pad save.
Paulsen was robbed by Tokarski with a pad save when he found himself wide open in the slot on the powerplay.
A beautiful pass sent Hobbs on a breakaway moments later, shut down by DeSerres.
Tokarski stopped Connolly on a breakaway with five minutes left, keeping the game alive.
The second period of overtime ended scoreless.
Robertson got the first shot of the third overtime, gloved down by DeSerres one minute in.
Another shot by Robertson was sent wide by DeSerres halfway through the period.
Two minutes later the crowd went wild when Meyers let one ring into the top corner from the slot after a pass from Connolly. Prince Albert jumped the bench and stormed Meyers as Calgary looked on with their heads in their hands.
The Prince Albert Mintos won the Telus Cup.
Leonard said he was very proud of everyone on his team.
“I’ve got 22 fantastic kids there that’ll do whatever it takes to win, it’s been a pleasure to coach them. They’re just a fantastic group.”
Players of the game were Connelly and Robertson.
Shots on goal were 65-62 Calgary.
By Jonathan Russell
The stage is set for the country’s most talented Midget AAA clubs to show why they deserve to be crowned Canada’s best at the Telus Cup in Charlottetown, P.E.
For some it will be the climax to their hockey careers, for others a stepping stone, but for the undefeated Prince Albert Mintos and the third seed Calgary Buffaloes it’s a chance to make the most of that split-second opening which can make a world of difference.
The round robin had all the blood, sweat and tears you’d expect from the opening week of a national hockey tournament, but when the dust settled the Western league champs from rural Saskatchewan and the Pacific conference victors from cowtown were left standing, both willing to go that extra mile.
The two teams met early in the round robin when Calgary fell to Prince Albert on opening day, 7-2.
The Buffaloes enjoyed a solid two-goal performance from captain Mike Connolly – later named Telus MVP and top scorer after round robin action – but couldn’t contain the Mintos explosive offense.
Prince Albert, on the other hand, hit the ground running after Matthew Robertson, later named top forward,
buried a hat-trick, which proved to be a preview of things to come.
Prince Albert Mintos: The green-haired kids from northern Saskatchewan rolled their way through the round robin with a perfect 5-0 record, conceding just 6 goals while netting 26 of their own.
Prince Albert wasn’t satisfied to let one or two players provide the offensive firepower; nine of the Mintos players were in the tournaments top 20 for scoring.
But Robertson’s star shone the brightest among a cluster of stars during his teams 8-0 win over Patriotes de Chateauguay, when the 18 year-old sniped a mind-boggling 5 goals.
Robertson expected his club to do well at the Telus Cup, but didn’t expect such a smooth ride.
“We haven’t really had that tight of a game so far,” the Mintos forward said in an interview with hockeycanada.ca after the convincing semi-final win. “We weren’t really expecting that, but I knew we could do pretty good.”
A focused Robertson wasn’t concerned who his Mintos would see in the finals.
“It doesn’t really matter (who we play in the final)” he said a couple of hours before
Calgary earned a spot in the finals. “They’re in our way, so it doesn’t matter. We’ll get the win.
“We’ve been waiting for this all year and can’t wait to get started.”
A more humble Ron Meyers agreed, saying a chance to play for the national title is unreal.
“It’s kind of like a dream come true, especially for some of the third years like myself on the team. It’s definitely memory that we won’t forget.”
If Prince Albert sticks to the same game plan it has all year they should be alright, said the captain.
“We’re a hard-working team and a disciplined team and that’s what got us here and that’s what’s getting us through.”
But Meyers is careful not to get too relaxed going into the final game.
“I think it gives us a little confidence (beating Calgary in the round robin), but it’s kind of like playoff hockey; no matter what you did in the regular season, they’re going to come out hard and we just got to match it.”
Meyers, who posted 12 points in 6 Telus Cup games, said being a marked man in the finale will take patients.
“I think we just got to work through it and just stay positive because the one split second you might have that opening and you have to take a hold of it and finish it off,” he said of himself and teammate Robertson.
On the flip side, Meyers said his side will keep a watchful eye on Calgary’s captain. “Mike Connolly is a very good hockey player. He gets around everywhere and he’s a good passer, sees the ice very well.”
Calgary Buffaloes: The lad’s from the booming west had a trickier round robin than their finale counterparts, finishing with a modest 3 wins and 2 losses the Buffaloes scored 22 goals, allowing 18.
Surely Connolly, having contributed to over half of his teams goals, is a force to be reckoned with, but the offensive talent doesn’t stop there for the Buffaloes.
Blue-liner Chris Markiewicz was the second leading point-getter in the tourney, proving he is among the countries top, attacking defenseman.
Both Jordan Eberle and Jamie Paulsen are capable of helping Connolly with some of the offensive responsibilities, having added 16 to their team’s 22 goals.
But the Buffaloes may be a little more worse-for-wear after their tough 4-2 semi-final win against the Toronto Junior Canadiens.
Calgary’s road to the Telus Cup finals was long in the making, said head coach Darren Rommerdahl after the semis.
“Our guys really worked hard, right from back in September we worked hard and our goal, and our focus, was to get to this game, right from the get go. So I’m real proud of these guys.”
So what’s the head coach’s game plan against a red-hot Mintos offense?
“We’re not worrying too much about what they’re doing, or trying to shut down individuals per say. We’re going to try and shut down their whole team, and that’s going to be our philosophy.”
Rommerdahl does, however, realize Connolly will be closely watched, but knows his captain can handle it.
“He’s (Connolly) used to that. Every single game right from October on he’s had guys trying to shut him down and he continues to preserver and do well.”
Connolly said being marked could have its advantages.
“It’s (being marked) just one of those things where you got to keep working. You got to stick to your game plan. If you’re given the opportunity to fight through checks and draw penalties, that’s the thing you got to do. But mainly I just have to stick to my game and worry about what I’m doing and try to help out my teammates as much as I can.”
And helping his team will be Connolly’s primary focus, albeit a difficult one against a strong Prince Albert squad, he admitted.
“They’re (Mintos) very dangerous. We’re going to have to be on the top of our game. They’ve proven all tournament that they are a very powerful, high scoring team, but we’re up for the challenge and we’re looking forward to a great game.”
Rommerdahl agreed, saying the Buffaloes are going all in against the Mintos.
“They’ve (Prince Albert) been pretty flawless all week. We’re going to give ‘em everything we got tomorrow, so hopefully things will come together for us and we can continue this roll we’re on. We’re a streaky hockey club. We’ve been a streaky hockey club all year. This is our fourth win in a row and we want one more.”
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