There’s a lot of excitement surrounding the Prince Albert Mintos this season, as they are tied for first place in the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League standings near the halfway point of the season.
But there likely be even more enthusiasm surrounding the team next year as the Mintos will host the 2014 Telus Cup Western Regionals Apr 3-6, the team announced at a press conference Friday at the Art Hauser Centre.
Joe Bexson, committee chair for the tournament, said the automatic regionals berth as hosts and their previous success at the Telus Cup national midget AAA tournament could help in recruiting process this offseason. The Mintos were the first team in history to win back-to-back championships since the tournament began in 1979, accomplishing the feat in 2006 and 2007.
“You’re going to the semifinals of a national championship, so what youngster wouldn’t want to have that opportunity?” said Bexson. “The Mintos are two-time Telus Cup champions in 2006 and 2007. That alone puts them in good standings.
“They’re one of the top franchises in Western Canada where people want to come and play for the Prince Albert Mintos.”
The tournament should also bring in a ton of fans to the Art Hauser Centre to see their Mintos compete in a high-level tournament with a Telus Cup berth on the line.
“It’s entertaining hockey,” said Mintos head coach Ken Morrison. “The Mintos, even before I was around, have had a very strong fan base of people that really get excited about the game and support the team.
“You just have to go back to the Telus Cups that the team won—the TV cameras, in the crowd there’s a bunch of crazy PA fans cheering (the Mintos) on. I think it’s going to be good and a great opportunity for the fans to see some great hockey at home rather than travel to Moose Jaw or somewhere else through the winter months.”
The last time the Mintos made a regionals appearance was in 2011 in Moose Jaw, losing in the championship game to the Winnipeg Thrashers. The Thrashers went on to win the Telus Cup that year.
The Mintos haven’t hosted a regional tournament before, but did run the national tournament in 1999, then called the Air Canada Cup.
Bexson said the committee used that experience as background to making their bid this year.
“The sports community is very well connected in Prince Albert so we’ve been able to draw on a lot of expertise from other areas and other sports (organizations) that have also bid on national championships and regional championships,” said Bexson. “We just compiled that information and put together what we thought was a great bid.”
This year, the Mintos are vying for a spot at this year’s western regional, needing to win the SMAAAHL championship. This year’s regionals will be held in Kenora, Ont. Apr. 4-7.
The Mintos are tied for first with the Regina Pat Canadians, both of whom have identical records with 13-3-2. Both teams will play Sunday at 1:30 p.m. at the Art Hauser Centre.
On Twitter: @jeff_dandrea
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