The Prince Albert A&W Bears knew scoring would be at a premium in the Saskatchewan Female Midget AAA Hockey League championship final and on Monday in Regina they found out just how tough that would be.
Despite outshooting the league-leading Regina Rebels 34-32, the Bears could not find the back of the net in the opening game of the best-of-five final and as a result dropped a 2-0 decision as they head home for Game 2 on Wednesday at the Art Hauser Centre.
Regina was the runaway leaders in the eight-team league this year having suffered just a shootout loss to Prince Albert back in October. They won their remaining 27 games and in the process outscored the opposition 131-19 on the season.
That’s right, they allowed just 19 goals in 28 games and in the post-season the trend has continued as they have swept past the Battlefords Sharks and Saskatoon Stars and in doing so outscored those two opponents 27-6.
On Monday, the Bears battled hard despite being less than 24 hours removed from an emotional 4-1 victory in a fifth and deciding semifinal game against the Weyburn Gold Wings.
Prince Albert did a great job of controlling the league’s top two scorers – Hannah Heisler and Emma Waldenberger – but Vayda Kotyk got the Rebels on the scoreboard midway through the first period and the score remained that way until Delaney Frey added an insurance marker just 18 seconds into the final frame.
Jessica Vance turned aside 30 shots in the Prince Albert goal while Tatum Shand picked up her second shutout of the playoffs in the Regina goal. Shand had led all goaltenders in the regular season with an incredible 0.47 goals-against average. Her netminding partner, Rae McClintock, was only slightly behind at 0.84.
The Bears will be looking to get untracked on Wednesday as the series will take a few days off after that match to accommodate the SaskFirst zone tournament this weekend in Regina.
As many as 10 Prince Albert players will be participating in the event, which is used to identify the talent available to form Team Saskatchewan for the national under-18 championships that are played in November.
The series is likely to resume on Tuesday in Regina with Game 4, if necessary, slated for Mar. 28 at the Art Hauser Centre.