It took a while for the Bears to awaken, but once they came to life there was no stopping them.
The A&W Bears put to an end a three-game Saskatchewan Female Midget AAA Hockey League losing streak with a 5-2 triumph over the Battlefords Sharks on Tuesday at the Art Hauser Centre.
It was over a month ago that the Bears last tasted victory in league play as the second-place Prince Albert squad limped into the Christmas break with shootout losses to the Sharks and Melville and another setback to the same Prairie Fire club from Melville.
During the holidays, however, the Bears put together a string of success at the Mac‚Äôs Invitational tournament that saw the club win twice and tie two others to reach the semifinals of the prestigious tournament.
Despite losing to the Saskatoon Stars 5-2 in the semifinals, the Bears came home from the event with a positive outlook for a strong second half to the regular season. At least that was what they were hoping for.
‚ÄúThere was a little hangover from the Mac‚Äôs I suppose,‚ÄĚ said Bears‚Äô head coach Jeff Willoughby in reference to the slow start on Tuesday. ‚ÄúOnce we got our feet under us the forecheck started in the second period and we began creating turnovers.‚ÄĚ
After a scoreless opening period, the Bears scored three times in the middle frame, but couldn‚Äôt put the much-improved Sharks away. The Battlefords, who are last in the league with just two wins, scored a power-play marker and a shorthanded tally to keep the game close, but the third period belonged to Prince Albert.
Shaylyn Constant, with two goals, Kelly Regnier, Tylor Lindsay and Morgan Willoughby scored for Prince Albert, who improved to 11-3-0-3 on the season. Sara Olson stopped 13 shots to record the win while Prince Albert native Jacy Akre turned aside 31 blasts in the Battlefords goal.
The Bears are now 10 points behind the league-leading Regina Rebels and Jeff Willoughby says second place is what the team has to focus on.
‚ÄúIf we win out second place is in our control,‚ÄĚ says Willoughby. ‚ÄúWe would need a lot of help to get first place.‚ÄĚ
The Bears return to action this weekend when they host the Notre Dame Hounds on Saturday and Sunday with both games beginning at 1:30 p.m. at the Art Hauser Centre.
Following this weekend, the Bears will prepare for the inaugural Flaman‚Äôs Outdoor Classic on Jan. 19 at the Crescent Heights Arena. The Bears will play Saskatoon in one game while the Mintos will face the Saskatoon Blazers in another match. There will also be a pair of atom division games to complete the day‚Äôs activities. Tickets for the Outdoor Classic are $15 for the entire day and they can be picked up at the Raider office.