Châteauguay ties game for the second straight day
It has been more than two months since Lane Michasiw has won a game.
Under the circumstances, Tuesday's 1-1 tie with the Grenadiers de Châteauguay feels pretty good for the Prince Albert Mintos goalie.
Michashiw made 35 saves in goal for the Mintos as they remained unbeaten after the second day of action at the Telus Cup midget AAA hockey championship in Moose Jaw.
"Even to a get tie in a hard-fought game, it was a bit of a relief because I haven't had a win in awhile," said Michasiw who recorded his last win on February 18 during the regular season. "This game really was a confidence booster for me and hopefully I can keep it up."
Michasiw was pulled midway through Game 1 of the Mintos playoff opener. He got another start while the Mintos were swept by Battlefords. He also got a meaningless start in the Western Regional final while Connor Ingram won the three games that got the Mintos to Moose Jaw.
"It's the coach's decision. He is going to pick who plays and I respected that. I went out today and tried to earn the crease. We'll see from here on, but I just tried to play my game," said Michasiw.
The 18-year-old was one of the elite goalies in the Sask. midget AAA league a season ago when he posted a 1.71 goals-against average and a .921 save percentage. His numbers dipped a touch in his sophomore season, but his coach Ken Morrison said he never lost faith in his veteran goalie.
"I told him last night that he was starting and I told him we had a lot of confidence in him," said Morrison. "I said the only thing he has to do is be more aggressive and confident. I felt he's been a little tentative and back in his net a little too much, but he really stepped up today. He did a really good job and he basically kept us in there for the tie. It was a big game from him."
Michasiw stopped four Grenadiers breakaway chances. He robbed Brandon McCulloch in the second period and kept out a chance from Alexandre Payusov on the rebound. He also turned away Pascal Laberge's five-hole attempt on a breakaway with eight seconds left in the game.
"Their goalie made some great saves. I was looking at the (replay on the) scoreboard to see how he made those saves," said Grenadiers head coach Bruce Richardson. "We had four breakaways and these are our top scorers who had these breakaways. Payusov and McCulloch are guys that I would put $100 on if it's one against the goalie and they didn't score. Their goalie played unbelievable. As did ours."
The Grenadiers also started their back-up and Ryan Coughlin was every bit as good as Michasiw as he made 13 saves in the first period to keep his team in the game and finished with 23 stops.
The Grenadiers were arguably the better team in both of their games, but they sit with a pair of ties after they opened the tournament with a 3-3 tie against the Okanagan Rockets.
"I thought we had a tough schedule and played two very good teams at the start," said Richardson.
The game started out as a special teams contest. The Mintos earned the first five power plays of the game — all in the first period. Dakota Boutin scored his second goal of the tournament when he deflected Loch Morrison's power play point shot to open the scoring.
"When you get that many power plays it would be nice to capitalize on at least one more," said Morrison. "Their goalie played well. We had one where it got past him and hit the skate of one of their guys before it went in the net. It's tough.
"It turns out it could have been the difference in the game."
In the second it was Châteauguay's turn as they earned five straight power plays.
Six-foot-four winger Justin Doucet deflected a Danick Crête point shot past Michasiw to tie the game.
The Grenadiers out-shot the Mintos 30-10 over the final two periods.
The Grenadiers were showing some frustration after the first period, but calmed down between period and came took the game to the Mintos from there.
"It's part of the game. Sometimes you get frustrated. As a coach it's your job to keep them calm. They're still young men," said Richardson. "I went through this as a profession hockey player and I got frustrated and I was an adult.
"All year we say never get to high, never get too low — stay in the middle. They did that pretty well and it showed when we went back out in the second."
The Mintos opened with a 4-1 win over Toronto. After a strong first period Tuesday, Morrison wants to see a more complete effort Wednesday when they play Okanagan.
"We have to get back to our game for 60 minutes," said Morrison. "In the first we were skating hard and were pretty effective. In the second you could see that if we're not skating and not playing our game we're pretty ineffective."