Mintos double up Rockets

Katie Brickman
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Yaremchuk's hat trick sends Mintos to championship

The Prince Albert Mintos will try for their third national championship.

Lance Yaremchuk scored three goals to lead the Mintos to a 6-3 victory over the Okanagan Rockets in the one semifinal on Saturday afternoon at Mosaic Place.

“It feels pretty great. Our team came out and kept things simple. We got one off the bat there and got things going,” said Yaremchuk. “Our team played our hearts out and probably one of the best games we’ve played all year.”

The win puts the Mintos into the championship game on Sunday (3 p.m., Mosaic Place) and the Rockets into the bronze game (11 a.m., Mosaic Place).

“This is really tough. The boys battled so hard,” said Tyson Jost of the Rockets. “It is sad seeing them work so hard for this to happen, but we are going to have to come out sharp tomorrow and hopefully get the bronze medal.”

The Mintos had to kill an early penalty, but that didn’t seem to faze them.

Under five minutes into the game, Keegan Kjargaard pulled Rockets’ goaltender, Brendan Barry out of the net and back-handed a pass to Teal Sobkowicz, who potted the first goal into an open net.

Yaremchuk scored at the side of the net midway through the period and gave the Mintos an early 2-0 lead over the Rockets.

“I wouldn’t say (we were) nervous, but we panicked a little at the beginning,” said Jost. “We weren’t as focused as we needed to be.”

However, a goal by Kristian Blumenschein of the Rockets with just five seconds remaining in the frame seemed to energize the team.

“We were a little panicked, but our team has come back a lot this year and in a lot of big games,” stated Mack O’Rourke, head coach of the Rockets. “When you look at the (Vancouver) Giants and (Red Deer) Chiefs, we were down in those deciding games and we made the comeback. We had faith there was going to be a push and a chance at a comeback.”

The Rockets controlled much of the second period, but an early power play marker by Wyatt Grant put them in a hole.

“We just capitalized on our chances more … we got shots through to the net,” said Yaremchuk. “That was the biggest thing for us in this tournament, just getting pucks through without hitting shin pads.”

Another power play marker just 47 seconds into the third by Yaremchuk was big for the Mintos.

“We got three power play goals, which was big for us,” said Ken Morrison, head coach for Prince Albert. “We haven’t gotten a lot on the power play. We tried to simplify it and get some guys in front of the net and have guys shoot pucks. I think early in the game, it was working and had shots that the goalie didn’t see.”

The Rockets launched their comeback with back-to-back power play goals, but it wasn’t enough.

The fifth Mintos goal was a bit controversial, as Barry appeared like he was interfered with and was down and out, but Matthew Parsons backhanded the puck into the open net.

“I think that was a real tough goal for us to swallow,” said O’Rourke. “I don’t know what the officials saw. They gave me their explanation and that’s the way it is. We couldn’t do anything about it.”

Yaremchuk would seal the victory with an empty net goal.

Despite the loss, the Rockets are looking towards finishing the season with a victory.

“We are just going to have to put this behind us,” said Jost. “I know it is going to be tough as we wanted the Telus Cup. We wanted to be the top team in Canada, but third isn’t that bad. It is not the goal we wanted, but we have to finish strong.”

Follow me on Twitter @katiebrickman 

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