How unlikely was it that the Saskatoon Contacts would represent the West Region at the 2016 TELUS Cup?
A quick glance at the regular season standings in the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League would say very unlikely, given that the Contacts finished 10th
and missed out on the postseason party by four points.
But as crazy as it may have seemed a few weeks ago, the Contacts earned their way to Canada’s National Midget Championship through hard work and plenty of
time to prepare for hosting the regional tournament.
Saskatoon had 39 days between its final regular season game and its first matchup of the West Regional, and it was ready to go when the puck dropped
against the Kenora Thistles on March 31.
“We were disappointed in not making the playoffs, but I think the way we looked at it was that our whole season came down to the four games in the
regionals,” says Saskatoon head coach Marc Chartier.
And it’s not as if the Contacts were blown away during the regular season; of their 25 losses, nine were by just a single goal and two came in overtime, so
a bounce the other way in a couple of those games could have put Saskatoon into the postseason.
But the Contacts focused on the bright side, and took that positivity into their almost-six-week break.
“The players remained positive and it showed in the  days we had waiting for the regional tournament; they worked hard and were fully committed to
winning it,” Chartier says.
“That down time meant that we weren’t as banged up as some of the other teams. For the most part, it gave time for a breather and a chance to reevaluate
our regular season, close the books on that and look ahead.”
The Contacts put the time off to good use; the hammered Kenora 7-3 in their regional opener, and upset the Notre Dame Hounds, the SMAAAHL champions, 5-1 to
clinch a berth in the championship game.
“We had beaten Notre Dame in the [regular] season and we knew we had to do it again to come out on top,” Chartier says. “They’re a well-coached team, but
we had the confidence we could beat them again and it showed.”
Saskatoon dropped its round-robin finale 2-1 to the Winnipeg Wild, setting up a rematch in the regional final.
A back-and-forth championship game needed overtime after a shorthanded penalty shot goal from Jonah Bumphrey tied the game for the Contacts late in the
It took a second extra period before Ty Prefontaine scored the OT winner, giving Saskatoon a 4-3 victory, ensuring its Cinderella run would continue, and
the Contacts to their third TELUS Cup in the last five years.
For Chartier, who coached Saskatoon to a bronze medal in 2012 and a fourth-place finish in 2013, this year’s edition of the Contacts has shown that it is
to be taken seriously at the national championship.
“We deserve to be there because the guys worked hard all year. We have a great group of kids who all get along and are committed to what we’re doing,” he
says. “We’ll take a step-by-step approach, but our goal is to make it to the weekend games at the TELUS Cup and to finish in the top four. Everyone’s
pumped about going; it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and just like a second chance for us.”
HOW SASKATOON GOT TO QUISPAMSIS
Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League
Round robin: first place – 2-1 (defeated Kenora 7-3, defeated Notre Dame 5-1, lost to Winnipeg 2-1)
Championship: defeated Winnipeg 4-3 2OT
Record: 19-23-2 (10th in SMAAAHL)
Goals For: 138 (7th in SMAAAHL)
Goals Against: 134 (6th in SMAAAHL)
Longest Winning Streak: 4 (Feb. 13-21)
Top 3 Scorers:
Quinton Ong – 18G 17A 35P (30th in SMAAAHL)
Chance Adrian – 10G 22A 32P (40th in SMAAAHL)
Dino Antoniadis – 11G 18A 29P (48th in SMAAAHL)
Goals For: 17
Goals Against: 9
Top 3 Scorers:
Carson Albrecht – 1G 4A 5P
Tyler Heidt – 3G 1A 4P
Quinton Ong – 3G 0A 3P
NATIONAL MIDGET CHAMPIONSHIP HISTORY
2013 – Saskatoon Contacts | fourth place | 2-3-2 | 22GF 24GA
2012 – Saskatoon Contacts | bronze medal | 3-2-2 | 27GF 22GA
2005 – Saskatoon Contacts | gold medal | 6-0-1 | 30GF 13GA
2000 – Saskatoon Contacts | bronze medal | 2-4-1 | 28GF 28GA
1998 – Saskatoon Contacts | fourth place | 4-3-0 | 33GF 20GA
PLAYERS TO WATCH
quick and athletic goaltender … good size … very good rebound control … does not allow second chances … keeps shooters honest … good communication … can
crafty offensive player … slick passing skills … high hockey IQ … knows where to be on the ice … agile skater … uses his edges well … makes teammates
better … a weapon on the PP
two-way defenceman … plays composed in all three zones … steady puck carrier … has ability to make a long stretch pass … very smart with the puck … good
WHL DRAFTED PLAYERS
Eli Lieffers – Kootenay 2015 (4th round, 78th overall)
Ty Prefontaine – Prince Albert 2014 (5th round, 96th overall)
Austin Wieler – Kootenay 2014 (7th round, 138th overall)
Chance Adrian – Red Deer 2014 (7th round, 142nd overall)
Luke Penner – Kootenay 2015 (8th round, 166th overall)