If the Prince Albert A&W Bears hope to get past the Regina Rebels, they are going to have to find a way to score some goals, something they had little trouble doing against everyone, except Regina, in the Saskatchewan Female Midget AAA Hockey League.
And, they will have to start doing it tonight when they host the Rebels in Game 2 of the best-of-five championship final at 7:30 p.m. at the Art Hauser Centre.
The Bears scored 90 times in 28 regular-season games this year, but just five of those were against the league-leading Rebels in the four times they faced each other. That number, unfortunately, remained the same after the opening game of the championship final, which Regina won 2-0 on Monday.
“Score,” is all Bears head coach Jeff Willoughby said the team had to do to beat Regina. “I don’t want to sound boring, but we got to score. We’re doing everything right; we’re just not putting it behind her.”
Putting it behind either Regina goaltender – Tatum Shand or Rae McClintock – has been rare this year as the Rebels’ tandem allowed just 19 goals in 28 regular-season matches and they have now let in just seven more in seven post-season contests.
Regina was easily the best club in the regular season as they won 27 games and lost just once, in a shootout to Prince Albert back in October. They scored 131 times while posting the miniscule 0.68 goals against average, but still, the Bears are confident they can do what they did last year and that was knock the Rebels out of the playoffs – Prince Albert swept Regina in three straight in the opening round a year ago.
“In the first period (on Monday) we were reacting to how they were playing,” explained Willoughby. “In the last 40 minutes we had the better scoring chances and outshot them (34-32). We’re just missing the finishing part.”
To Prince Albert’s credit, they were less than 24 hours removed from winning a decisive fifth game in a semifinal series against the Weyburn Gold Wings when they took to the ice in Regina on Monday.
With a day of rest on Tuesday, the Bears will be looking to get back on even terms before the series takes six days off to accommodate the SaskFirst camps this weekend in Regina. Prince Albert will have 10 players competing in that event with the championship series set to resume on Tuesday in Regina. Should a fourth game be required it will be next Thursday at the Art Hauser Centre.