Min­tos’ pro­vin­cial reps. re­flect on WHL Cup

Prince Albert Daily Herald - - SPORTS - EVAN RAD­FORD

Nearly a week af­ter the an­nual WHL Cup wrapped up in Calgary, two of Saskatchewan’s skaters in the tour­na­ment re­flected on time spent with their pro­vin­cial team and what could have been af­ter their squad tal­lied one win and four losses.

Both Josh Pil­lar and Alex Ozar see reg­u­lar ice time with the Midget AAA Prince Al­bert Min­tos – Pil­lar as a for­ward and Ozar as a de­fence­man. They kept their re­spec­tive roles while bat­tling against teams from Bri­tish Columbia, Al­berta and Man­i­toba.

The an­nual round-robin style tour­na­ment hosts the best un­der-16 aged play­ers from Canada’s four western provinces.

The Min­tos’ de­fence­man said the quality of play­ers at the tour­na­ment stood out for him.

“I haven’t re­ally seen any of those other play­ers play be­fore, and they were re­ally good – (in their) sys­tems, and they work well to­gether.”

Ozar tal­lied one goal and three as­sists through his team’s five games.

Saskatchewan’s lone win came against Man­i­toba dur­ing the roundrobin phase of the tour­na­ment on Oct. 19.

In that game, Ozar as­sisted on the game-win­ning goal, a pow­er­play marker scored by Austin Dycer.

Com­par­ing that win with his team’s four losses, their puck movement was more ef­fec­tive, Ozar said.

“We were mov­ing our feet and forc­ing their de­fence, so they could com­mit turnovers. But in our other games we weren’t mov­ing our feet. It was mak­ing it eas­ier for (the op­pos­ing teams’) de­fence to just bring the puck up.”

Pil­lar said his team’s puck pos­ses­sion was also bet­ter in the win­ning game.

“We def­i­nitely had more zone time in the win. I guess in our last game (a bronze medal loss to Man­i­toba), we had lots of zone time. But we just played a lot bet­ter of­fen­sively than we did in the other games in the win.”

Pil­lar was un­able to muster any goals or as­sists in the tour­na­ment, a point he spoke on.

“It wasn’t as good of­fen­sively as I wanted to be, but over­all I thought I worked hard and played well.”

Pil­lar agreed that the high quality play from teams like Al­berta and B.C. stuck out for him. “It felt like they had al­ready all played to­gether (prior to the tour­na­ment), but they haven’t. They were just all that good.”

Team Saskatchewan suf­fered heavy de­feats to B.C. and Al­berta.

Al­berta beat the team 8-3 on the tour­na­ment’s first day, Oct 18. Day 2 saw team Sask. best Man­i­toba 4-3.

Then B.C. top­pled the prairie team 6-0 on Oct. 20. Saskatchewan fin­ished round-robin play with a 1-2 record, set to play B.C. again in the semi-fi­nal on Oct. 21.

That game was worse than the pre­vi­ous; B.C. won 7-0, al­though Pil­lar did earn the game’s se­cond star nom­i­na­tion.

That led to his side play­ing Man­i­toba for the bronze medal on Oct. 22. Man­i­toba won 4-2 and re­peated as the bronze medal win­ners in the tour­na­ment.

DEREK LE­UNG/SUB­MIT­TED BY WHL

Josh Pil­lar (19) skates with the puck against a team B.C. de­fender at the 2017 WHL Cup in Calgary.

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