It was the well rested against the battle tested and it was the latter that put on a clinic as the Weyburn Gold Wings dominated the Prince Albert A&W Bears in the opening game of their Saskatchewan Female Midget AAA Hockey League semifinal series on Friday at the Art Hauser Centre.
The Bears have been idle since sweeping the defending league and national champion Notre Dame Hounds last Sunday while Weyburn was less than 24 hours removed from eliminating the Swift Current Wildcats in the fifth and deciding game of their quarter-final match-up on Thursday.
Rather than take advantage of a weary Gold Wings’ club, the Bears were beaten in almost every aspect and Prince Albert head coach Jeff Willoughby said it wasn’t what he was expecting.
“Our eyes are definitely open now,” said a sombre Willoughby moments after the 4-1 setback. “We know now what we are up against. It’s a race to three wins and we have to get there first.”
Weyburn’s Madison Colbow got the lone goal in the first period and the Gold Wings increased their advantage to 2-0 early in the second when Marissa Pirlot connected for a second straight power-play marker.
“There’s a fine line of playing aggressive and being in the (penalty) box,” noted Willoughby. “We crossed that line.”
Kelly Regnier got her eighth goal of the playoffs to cut the deficit in half, but it was all Weyburn for the remainder of the game with Makenzie Bauer scoring near the end of the second period and Cassidy Pirlot completing the attack midway through the final frame.
“Offensively we have to move the puck more to the net – get more traffic in front,” said Willoughby. “That one goal we got is what we have to be doing.”
With the way the league schedules games – all long-distance opponents play doubleheaders while teams closer to each other have single contests – the Bears and Gold Wings have not seen each other since October 21.
In the four games they played against each other, Prince Albert won one in regulation time, one in a shootout and one in overtime. Weyburn won the other meeting in overtime.
“Their team game has improved a lot,” said Willoughby. “They played a lot like we want to.”
Sarah Olson faced 30 shots in the Prince Albert goal while Jane Kish, who was named the goaltender on the first all-star team earlier this week, was tested 27 times.
Prince Albert has little time to regroup as they will travel to Weyburn on Sunday for Game 2 of the best-of-five series. Game 3 will be at the Art Hauser Centre on Tuesday.