Séminaire St-François Blizzard 2 - Prince Albert Mintos 4
MINTOS TO PLAY FOR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP AGAIN
The Prince Albert Mintos have clinched their second consecutive berth in the gold medal game at the TELUS Cup after a 4-2 semi-final win over the Séminaire Saint-François Blizzard on Saturday afternoon.
The Blizzard came out flying to open the first period, putting pressure on the Mintos and goaltender Carsen Chubak. But it was only a matter of time before the West Region champions got control of their nerves and began to skate like the only unbeaten team at the tournament.
“One of our main goals, as a team, was to wear them down on the forecheck,” said Jadon Potter, who was named Player of the Game after a two-goal effort. “We put pressure on them, made them make quick decisions, and they made a few mistakes.”
Potter got the Mintos on the board first, firing a shot past a screened Adrien Lemay just past the eight-minute mark of the opening period.
They then added another at 1:03 of the second when Ryan Fox sprung Travis Statchuk for a breakaway. Statchuk went high to the blocker side of Lemay to make it a 2-0 game.
The Blizzard, however, refused to go away, scoring their first of the game on the powerplay after a scramble in front of the Prince Albert goal. Sebastien Trudeau put the puck past a sprawling Chubak, giving his team life just 54 seconds after Statchuk’s goal.
Saint-François pulled even less than five minutes later on another man advantage, as Maxime Gravel finished off a beautiful tic-tac-toe passing play, with Trudeau and Jonathan Hazen picking up helpers.
Potter got the eventual game-winner six minutes later, finishing off a two-on-one with Brennan Wrigley for his second goal of the game.
The Blizzard threw everything they had at Chubak and the Mintos in the final 20 minutes, but the defending national champions would not be denied a second consecutive appearance in the championship game, and Tyler Fiddler sealed it with an empty-net goal with just 16 seconds to go, running the Mintos’ winning streak at the TELUS Cup to 13 games.
Guillaume Goulet was named Player of the Game for the Blizzard, who will play for bronze on Sunday morning against the loser of Saturday’s second semi-final.
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PREVIEW: MINTOS LOOK TO MOVE CLOSER TO HISTORY AGAINST BLIZZARD
Just two wins separate the Prince Albert Mintos from Canadian Midget hockey history, and they will look to get halfway there on Saturday afternoon when they take on the Séminaire Saint-François Blizzard in a semi-final at the 2007 TELUS Cup.
The Mintos – who pushed their winning streak at the TELUS Cup to 12 games with a perfect 5-0 round-robin – are looking to become the first team in the 29-year history of the National Midget Championship to repeat as national champions, following their 2006 title in Charlottetown, PE.
Prince Albert took home their fair share of hardware from Friday night’s TELUS Cup Awards Banquet, winning three awards – Top Goaltender (Carsen Chubak), Top Forward (Tyler Fiddler) and Top Defensive Player (Lewis Laczko).
Chubak is arguably the biggest key to the Mintos’ success. Although he played in only two of the team’s five round-robin contests – he split time with Jordan Washburn – Chubak played against two of the tournament’s top teams in Saint-François and Red Deer, and came out with victories in both games, turning aside 59 of 60 shots and shutting out the high-powered Optimist Rebels offense.
The Blizzard are looking to make some history of their own in Red Deer. With a national championship, Saint-François – who made 11 National Midget Championship appearances as the Gouverneurs de Ste-Foy and one as the Couillard de Ste-Foy – would tie the Regina Pat Canadians for the most Canadian Midget crowns, with four.
The Blizzard’s leading scorer in both the regular season and the playoffs, Dave Labrecque has been invisible through five games at the TELUS Cup. Not only does Labrecque not have a single point, but he leads the team with 24 penalty minutes. He needs to return to his 60-point regular season form, and soon, if the Blizzard hope to play for gold on Saturday.
It may be a first-versus-fourth match-up, but the Blizzard dominated the opening two periods of their Tuesday night meeting, outshooting the Mintos 31-9 in the opening 40 minutes. Only Chubak’s stand-on-his-head performance kept the game close and allowed Prince Albert to make their third period comeback in a 3-1 win. The Blizzard will look for a similar start, but with better offensive results, while the Mintos will look to take the lead, and get their always-vocal cheering section involved , early.