What better way to get a bunch of new faces exposed to hockey at a higher level then having them play more hockey.
The Prince Albert A&W Bears, with 10 new players to open the Saskatchewan Female Midget AAA Hockey League season, needed overtime to win their season-opener on Saturday and then followed that up with a shootout victory on Sunday, both against the Weyburn Gold Wings.
“With 10 new faces in the line-up I guess nerves are still playing a bit of a role,” said Bears’ head coach Jeff Willoughby following Sunday’s 2-1 shootout win at the Art Hauser Centre. “It’s a work in progress. They have to build up to the speed and toughness in the league.”
Crystal Berube, a four-year veteran with the Bears, opened the scoring on Sunday when she banged in a Tylor Lindsay rebound with just over six minutes gone in the first period. It looked like that marker would stand the entire game, but Madison Colbow evened the score at 1-1 with a goalmouth goal of her own with just under five minutes left in regulation time.
After a scoreless overtime session, the game needed a shootout to determine a winner and 13-year-old Cassidy Carlson from Air Ronge was the lone sniper as Lindsay and Brooke Hobson were both stymied by Weyburn’s veteran netminder Jane Kish while Jessica Vance in the Prince Albert goal stopped all three Gold Wing shooters.
“I guess getting four out of six points isn’t a bad way to start the year,” noted Willoughby of the new point structure that sees teams winning in regulation time getting three points while two points is all that is available to the winning club in overtime or a shootout. Losing teams in extra time get one point.
Vance and Kish each finished the game with 28 saves in addition to the stops made in the shootout.
On Saturday, in a game played at the Kinsmen Arena, Prince Albert and Weyburn battled through two scoreless periods before the flood gates opened in the third. Amy Weightman, another veteran member of the Bears, broke the deadlock four minutes into the final frame but goals less than three minutes apart by Colbow and Caitlin Dempsey gave Weyburn it’s first and only lead of the weekend.
Bears’ rookie Sierra Glass scored late in the final stanza to force overtime and Hobson completed the comeback when she fired the winner while Prince Albert was on a power play three minutes into the extra session.
Vance was spectacular in the Prince Albert goal stopping 32 shots while Kish turned aside 26 in the Weyburn net.
The schedule doesn’t get any easier for the Bears as they host the defending provincial champion Regina Rebels next weekend. The Bears, who lost to Regina in three straight games for the league title last spring, will entertain Regina at 7 p.m. on Friday at the Kinsmen Arena and at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday at the Art Hauser Centre.