After a successful run at the prestigious Mac’s Invitational midget hockey tournament in Calgary over the holidays, the Prince Albert A&W Bears resume their quest for a league championship tonight when they host the Battlefords Sharks at 7:30 p.m. at the Art Hauser Centre.
The Bears, who were undefeated in four preliminary round-robin games before falling to the Saskatoon Stars in semifinal play in Calgary, begin the second half of the Saskatchewan Female Midget AAA Hockey League season in second place in the eight-team circuit.
A three-game losing streak to close the pre-Christmas portion of the schedule more or less put the Bears’ hopes of finishing first in the regular schedule out the window as the Regina Rebels have built a commanding 12-point lead and have yet to lose a game in regulation time. The only blemish on the Regina record is a 3-2 shootout loss in Prince Albert back in October.
Prince Albert, with its 10-3-0-3 record, is two points up on the Stars and three ahead of the Weyburn Gold Wings in the battle for the No. 2 seed. The Bears have three games in hand on both of those clubs so tonight’s contest takes on even more importance.
The Bears and the Sharks have met twice this year with Prince Albert winning 9-0 in the Battlefords in the first meeting, but a stunning 3-2 shootout loss at the Art Hauser Centre in December started the current losing streak for the Bears. It was the first time the Sharks ever beat a Bears team in the seven seasons since the league was formed and it was just the Battlefords’ second win this year as the Sharks are in the basement with a 2-10-1-2 record.
Following tonight’s game, the Bears will remain at home for a doubleheader against the Notre Dame Hounds on the weekend and then it is the inaugural Flaman’s Outdoor Classic on Jan. 19 when Prince Albert will host Saskatoon in one of four games to be played at the Crescent Heights Arena. The Prince Albert Mintos will also be part of the action as they take on the Saskatoon Blazers in a Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League clash.
With the Rebels’ recent surge to take a commanding lead in the league standings, it is no surprise that they also topped the list for the league’s monthly three-star awards.
Goaltender Tatum Shand captured the first star after allowing just two goals in four games and keeping her goals-against average at an incredible 0.50 in 10 games this season. By comparison, Prince Albert’s Jessica Vance has a 1.77 GAA, which is pretty remarkable in itself, but that is fourth best in the league.
Tylor Lindsay of the Bears was named the second star after the rookie forward notched one game-winning tally and assisted on another. Lindsay leads all first-year players with 15 points in 16 games and is in 10th place in league scoring.
Fanny Grimstad of the Melville Prairie Fire was the third star.
Kelly Regnier continues to be the scoring leader for the Bears, but the third-year forward has slipped to fourth place in the overall scoring race as a trio of Regina players have moved past her. Regnier, with 15 goals and 11 assists, trails Hannah Heisler (16-18-34), Emma Waldenberger (13-18-31) and Teah Anderson (14-15-29).
Kaitlin Willoughby, who was named to the all-star team at the Mac’s tournament, is third in Bears’ scoring with 14 points on three goals and 11 assists.