Bears salvage weekend split with Regina after shootout victory on Saturday
The Prince Albert A&W Bears can consider themselves fortunate to gain a split in weekend Saskatchewan Female Midget AAA Hockey League action.
The Bears, who lost 4-1 to the Regina Rebels in a neutral-site game played in Melfort on Friday, struggled for most of the second game of the doubleheader played on Saturday at the Art Hauser Centre as well. However, goals by Tylor Lindsay and Kaitlin Willoughby in the shootout lifted Prince Albert to a 3-2 victory, leaving the two teams tied for first place in the league standings.
“Getting down early wasn’t planned that’s for sure and maybe we do feel a bit fortunate, but we battled back,” says Bears’ head coach Jeff Willoughby. “We didn’t lie down and let them do what they wanted to do.”
Friday’s win was Regina’s sixth straight to start the season and Willoughby says the feeling around the league is they will be the team to beat. With that said, he also implied that the Bears will also be a threat as both clubs now have 13 points although the Rebels hold two games in hand.
“From talking to everyone around the league, they have come to that conclusion,” acknowledged Willoughby, “but it was nice to burst their bubble (on Saturday).”
Lindsay scored the only goal for the Bears on Friday and after that marker opened the scoring, Regina responded with four unanswered tallies, including the final one into an empty net.
Jessica Vance was busy in the Bears’ goal stopping 35 shots, but three goals while on the power play proved to be the difference for Regina.
On Saturday, Sarah Olson started the game in the Prince Albert net, but she was pulled in favour of Vance after allowing two goals on the first four shots. Vance again made 35 saves, in addition to two more in the shootout, to salvage the win.
“I’m sure she (Olson) would want to have those two goals back,” said Willoughby. “I decided to make the change and as it turned out, it was best for the team.”
Kelly Regnier and Kaitlin Willoughby scored for Prince Albert on Saturday with both goals being set up by Lindsay. For Regnier it was her 10th goal of the season and sixth in the last three games to move her into the league lead in both goals and points, while Lindsay has also seen her play move to another level in recent games.
“It’s nice to have your best players being your best players,” admitted the Bears’ head coach. “Players like Kelly (Regnier), Kaitlin (Willoughby) and Jessica (Vance) can make a difference in a game.”
“Tylor (Lindsay) has been pretty impressive too,” added Willoughby. “Most of her points have been big points.”
The Bears will now have three weeks off before they return to action with a doubleheader in Saskatoon. Their next home game is not until Dec. 1, but the break will be busy for 17-year-old Kaitlin Willoughby as she leaves next week to compete with Team Saskatchewan at the national under-18 women’s hockey championship in Dawson Creek, B.C.