A busy home schedule to start the season comes to an end this weekend as the Prince Albert A&W Bears host the Notre Dame Hounds in Saskatchewan Female Midget AAA Hockey League action on Saturday and Sunday.
The Bears have had the luxury of playing four of their first five games on home ice this year and after this weekend’s action which will make it six of seven they take to the road for two months with just a single home game – Nov. 13 against Saskatoon – on the schedule before they host Swift Current on the final weekend before Christmas.
Ice availability is the main culprit in the scheduling dilemma, but there is also the week break in early November that the league takes to accommodate the national under-18 women’s championship plus there is a pause in league games in early December for the annual Notre Dame tournament.
The Bears will be well represented at the national under-18 event as defenseman Brooke Hobson and goaltender Jessica Vance have been named to the provincial team that will compete in Calgary during the first week of November.
Prince Albert has also been confirmed to compete in the Notre Dame tournament, which they have by-passed the last several years in order to compete at the Mac’s Invitational tournament in Calgary over the Christmas break. The Bears will remain at home this year for Christmas to allow the players an opportunity to spend the holidays with their families.
The Bears have won three of their first five games this year and are coming off a convincing 7-3 victory over the Battlefords Sharks last weekend. They have yet to face the Hounds this year, but it is a rivalry that has a rich history.
This is the eighth year for the SFMAAAHL and in the first six years the only teams to have their names on the Fedoruk Cup, symbolic of winning the league championship, were Notre Dame and Prince Albert. The Hounds won the title five times while Prince Albert claimed the championship in 2008-09. The Regina Rebels are the defending league champions.
The Hounds come into Prince Albert having won just one of their first four games with that victory coming in overtime against the league-leading Saskatoon Stars. Notre Dame has scored 11 times in the four games while allowing 18. In contrast, Prince Albert has scored 13 goals and allowed 11 in their five games.
In previous years where the Bears usually had one or two key offensive players to lead the way, this year’s team is being led by committee as rookie Katelyn Chickowski tops the team’s scoring parade with three goals and one assist in the first five games. Four players have three points each while a large group has collected a pair of points to start the season.
The Bears will have one new face in the line-up this weekend as Jessica Lutz from Hudson Bay has been added to the roster. Lutz is a 16-year-old forward who is expected to help provide additional offence to the club.
Following this weekend, the Bears will be in Regina next weekend to face the undefeated Rebels in a doubleheader and then in November they continue to take their show on the road with stops in Saskatoon, Notre Dame and Swift Current.
Game times this weekend against the Hounds are 7 p.m. on Saturday at the Art Hauser Centre and 1:30 p.m. on Sunday at the Kinsmen Arena.