The Prince Albert A&W Bears will look to continue in February what they did all of January – win.
A perfect 7-0-0 in Saskatchewan Female Midget AAA Hockey League games last month has improved the Bears’ record to 17-3-0-3 and they will be trying to add to those numbers this weekend when they travel to Melville for a doubleheader against the Prairie Fire.
A big reason for the success was the play of team captain Kaitlin Willoughby. The 17-year-old winger, who has played parts of five seasons with the Bears, notched 14 points in January to double her output for the entire season. That performance garnered her the league’s top player of the month distinction for January.
Willoughby, who has committed to play with the University of Saskatchewan Huskies next year, is now tied for second place on the Bears’ all-time points list with 91 points. Willoughby trails linemate Kelly Regnier in that category as Regnier, a third-year forward, has 95 points including a team leading 37 this year.
Goaltending has also been a key to the Bears’ fortunes as Jessica Vance and Sarah Olson have allowed just 48 goals in 23 games and together they have posted six shutouts. Vance registered her fourth of the season in the last outing, a 3-0 win in the Battlefords on Wednesday against the Sharks.
Vance now has the third-best goals-against average in the league at 1.61, just slightly better than the 1.87 recorded by Prince Albert product Karlee Fetch of the Saskatoon Stars. The Regina tandem of Tatum Shand and Rae McClintock continue to lead the way with a miniscule 0.50 and 0.79 GAA, respectively.
The Bears will be looking for a bit of revenge when they play the Prairie Fire this weekend as Melville won both games in Prince Albert back in December. Should the Bears get four points in their final five games they will surpass the franchise best of 40 set in 2009-10.
Prince Albert also needs just two points to clinch at least second place in the overall standings. The Bears trail the league-leading Regina Rebels by six points, but two more points would put them out of reach of the third-place Weyburn Gold Wings.
Prince Albert will play its final home game on Feb. 12 when they will host the Saskatoon Stars and they will complete the regular schedule on Feb. 16-17 with a doubleheader in Regina.
Prince Albert Mintos
The Mintos will get a much-needed and well deserved week-long break following a 5-2 Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League victory in Beardy’s over the Blackhawks on Thursday.
The win was the 11th in a row for the Mintos and dropped their magic number down to three to clinch first place in the overall standings. Prince Albert, which is 29-5-2 on the season, is now 12 points ahead of the Saskatoon Contacts although they have played one more game than their closest pursuer.
With just eight games remaining on the season, the break comes at an opportune time to allow bumps and bruises to heal in addition to giving Kylar Hope and Kody White some time to mend as both sat out the game against Beardy’s.
In their places, the Mintos brought up Josh Elliot and Blair MacFarlane from the Midget AA Liteway Electric Raiders. Both had strong games, but it was the veterans who once again led the offense with Jason Duret, Ryan Duret, Lance Yaremchuk and Cody Young each scoring once in addition to rookie Justin Boyer. Bryton Sayers and Adam Osczevski, another pair of veterans, chipped in with two assists each.
Lane Michasiw turned aside 25 shots to record the win in the Prince Albert net. Michasiw now has the second-best goals-against average in the league at 1.63 while teammate Tanner Burgardt is fourth at 1.84.
The Mintos return to action on Tuesday when they travel to Saskatoon to face the Blazers. The next home game is Feb. 9 when they will host the Moose Jaw Generals.
Prince Albert Icehawks
The end is in sight for what has been a very disappointing season for the Prince Albert Icehawks.
There are just eight games left on the schedule and after Wednesday’s 9-4 loss to the Tri-Town Thunder, the Icehawks are at 5-23-4 including 11 straight losses.
Brett Boyer, Ryley Lajeunesse, Bryce Nemish and Tyson Sanderson scored for Prince Albert, who hosted the Saskatoon Quakers on Friday and will be in Delisle tonight to take on the Chiefs.
Already mathematically eliminated from the playoff race, the Icehawks will have six more games in the next two weeks to complete the schedule.
It is a light schedule for the three developmental teams this weekend as the Liteway Electric Raiders were in Watson on Friday and host Meadow Lake on Sunday at 4:15 p.m. at the Steuart Arena in Centre-Four Hockey League Midget Division action.
The NAPA Raiders are idle in CFHL pee wee division play and are still waiting for dates to be set for their Saskatchewan Hockey Association northern final against Warman and the Venice House Raiders have just one Saskatchewan Bantam AA Hockey League game tonight in Martensville against the Sask. Valley Vipers.