© Herald Photo by Dave Leaderhouse
A&W Bear forward Shaylyn Constant, left, gets ready for a face-off with Notre Dame's MacKenzie Kuffner during Saskatchewan Female Midget AAA Hockey League action on Saturday at the Art Hauser Centre.
The Prince Albert A&W Bears did something on the weekend that they have never even come close to doing before. They swept the Notre Dame Hounds.
On Sunday, the Bears scored four first-period goals and then cruised to a 5-1 victory while on Saturday Prince Albert built a 3-0 advantage en route to a 3-1 triumph.
This is the seventh season for the Saskatchewan Female Midget AAA Hockey League and in the previous six seasons, the Hounds have been the premiere club in the eight-team circuit.
Notre Dame has won five of the six championships (Prince Albert captured the other in 2009) and they have done it in convincing fashion. This year the Hounds are middle-of-the-pack as the school in Wilcox has entered a team in the Western Canadian Juvenile League, which has attracted some of the talent that would normally have played with the midget squad.
‚ÄúI guess things have kind of flipped around, but I told the girls that this is the team that knocked you out of the playoffs (last year) and it was our chance to beat them,‚ÄĚ said Bears‚Äô head coach Jeff Willoughby after Sunday‚Äôs win.
The Bears, who were swept in the semifinals by Notre Dame last year, had beaten the Hounds before, but never back-to-back and certainly not in as convincing fashion as they did this weekend.
Prince Albert turned in two of their better performances of the year in defeating the Hounds. The team had a 5-0 win over Swift Current at the beginning of December that was as close to perfect of a game as can be played and Willoughby said this weekend‚Äôs performances, especially the win on Sunday, approached that level.
‚ÄúToday‚Äôs game mirrored the Swift Current game as close as possible,‚ÄĚ says Willoughby. ‚ÄúIt would be nice to get back to that game.‚ÄĚ
Megan Sloboshan, Sydney Beckman and Lexi Van Camp scored for Prince Albert in the win on Saturday while team captain Kaitlin Willoughby led the attack with two goals and two assists on Sunday.
Kelly Regnier, who had her consecutive-points streak snapped on Saturday at 16 games, had a goal and two assists on Sunday to raise her team-leading point totals to 17 goals and 14 assists.
Tylor Lindsay and Crystal Berube also scored for Prince Albert, who improved to 13-3-0-3 and strengthened their hold on second place in the overall standings. Regina Rebels continue to lead the way with Weyburn Gold Wings moving to five points back of Prince Albert after a weekend sweep of the Battlefords Sharks.
Jessica Vance turned aside 29 shots in picking up the win on Saturday while Sara Olson was tested 23 times on Sunday. Vance‚Äôs performance lowered her goals-against average to a brilliant 1.70, which is third best in the league.
The Bears will now spend the week getting ready for the inaugural Flaman‚Äôs Outdoor Classic, which will be held on Saturday at the Crescent Heights Arena. It will be a memorable experience for players and fans alike as games will be held all day beginning at 10 a.m.
‚ÄúIt‚Äôs exciting because it‚Äôs the first time the league has done it,‚ÄĚ says Berube. ‚ÄúPlus we get to play Saskatoon and they are our rivals. They beat us in Calgary (at the Mac‚Äôs tournament) so we get to play them again.‚ÄĚ
The Bears will face the Saskatoon Stars at noon on Saturday with the Prince Albert Mintos squaring off against the Saskatoon Blazers at 4 p.m. A pair of atom division games will complete the day‚Äôs activities.