Playoff preview possible as Bears host Melville in weekend doubleheader

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Bears host Prairie Fire

Daily Herald Staff

In what could possibly be a first-round playoff match-up, the Prince Albert A&W Bears entertain the Melville Prairie Fire in a Saskatchewan Female Midget AAA Hockey League doubleheader this weekend at the Art Hauser Centre.

The two will hook up for the first time this season on Saturday at 7 p.m. with the second match set to go at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday. Both games will be played at the Art Hauser Centre.

The Bears enter the weekend in third place in the league standings, two points back of the Weyburn Gold Wings – with a game in hand - and two points ahead of the Saskatoon Stars. Melville, meanwhile, is seventh in the eight-team league and unless they get on a roll in the final stretch of the regular season they will finish in that position.

Prince Albert, on the other hand, controls its own destiny with nine games left on the schedule. The next seven games, including this weekend’s twinbill, are all against teams below them in the rankings. The Bears have to fare well in those contests to set up a showdown for second place on the final weekend of the season when they visit Weyburn for a pair of key games.

Should Prince Albert finish second they will likely meet Melville in the first round of the playoffs, but coming in third, or event fourth, brings in a whole bunch of different scenarios. The Bears do have an outside chance of catching the first-place Regina Rebels, but a whole lot is going to have to go wrong for the defending league champions in order for that to happen.

Prince Albert comes into this weekend’s action as winners of four of their last six games with the two losses both coming in a shootout. Melville has lost its last five games and they have just four wins all season.

Individually, Brooke Hobson and Sierra Glass lead the Bears in scoring with 13 points each while Jessica Vance has carried the bulk of the goaltending duties and is among the league leaders with a 1.98 goals-against average in 14 appearances.

Rookie Jessica Lutz, a 16-year-old from the Hudson Bay area, joined the Bears late in the season, but she has made a name for herself after picking up the league’s third-star honour for December. In four games during that month Lutz had five points including scoring in all situations – even strength, power play and shorthanded.

The Bears also have three players named to the Lakeland district female hockey team that will compete at the Saskatchewan Winter Games in Prince Albert next month. Making that squad are Hobson, Cassidy Carlson and Ireland South.

Following this weekend’s action the Bears will conclude a six-game homestand on Wednesday against the Battlefords Sharks. Prince Albert will then take to the road for five of its final six games.

 

Organizations: Prince Albert, Art Hauser Centre, Daily Herald Melville Prairie Fire Saskatchewan Female Midget AAA Hockey League

Geographic location: Weyburn, Hudson Bay, Lakeland Saskatchewan Ireland South

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