Team captains are supposed to lead by example and Kaitlin Willoughby certainly did her job well on Tuesday.
The Prince Albert Bears’ captain scored twice and collected five assists in a 10-1 Saskatchewan Female Midget AAA Hockey League playoff series opening victory over the Notre Dame Hounds at the Art Hauser Centre.
On most nights that performance would have been in a class of its own, but linemate Kelly Regnier bettered that with four goals and four assists.
“It’s nice to see them click a bit,” understated Bears’ head coach Jeff Willoughby. “At the beginning of the year I think they wanted to do that every game, but it is nice to see it starting to happen in the most important part of the season.”
Melinda Mechkart and Aleece Anderson both scored their first-ever goals for the Bears with Sydney Beckman and Tylor Lindsay completing the assault.
Jessica Vance had to stop just 14 shots in the Prince Albert goal while Breanna Aikens and Julianna Cornish faced a total of 44 blasts in the Hounds’ goal. Both Notre Dame netminders were replacement goalies as regulars Laura Wiebe and Summer Roberts were out due to injury.
“That was the game plan - we knew their regular goalies were out so we wanted to pepper them early with shots,” said Willoughby. “I’m really, really happy with the effort.”
“We felt a little bit of frustration lately in scoring goals and now they know the feeling of what it takes to score,” added the Bears’ head coach.
Do they ever!
It took 22 seconds before Regnier opened the scoring and they kept the peddle down right to the end with the third-year forward closing out her brilliant performance with the final marker of the game with just under 24 seconds left on the clock.
The win gives Prince Albert a 1-0 lead in the best-of-five series with the next match taking place in Wilcox on Saturday. The Bears, who won all four regular-season games over the defending league champions, will host Game 3 on Sunday at 7 p.m. at the Art Hauser Centre.