Daily Herald Staff
Goaltending will be at a premium when the Prince Albert A&W Bears meet the Weyburn Gold Wings in Game 2 of their Saskatchewan Female Midget AAA Hockey League semifinal on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. at the Art Hauser Centre.
Two of the league’s top netminders, Jessica Vance for the Bears and Weyburn’s Jane Kish, will be the final line of defence for their respective teams as Prince Albert tries to draw even in the series following a 2-1 overtime loss in the opening match on Tuesday.
Vance and Kish have been etching their names in the league record book all season long in addition to being teammates for Team Saskatchewan at the national under-18 women’s hockey championship held in Calgary in November.
The 16-year-old Vance equalled the league mark for appearances in a career with 71 and she also matched the standard for career shutouts with 12. Vance has also played the most minutes of any goaltender in league history as she has between the pipes for 3,968 minutes and counting.
The 17-year-old Kish has moved to the top of the list for career wins with 39 and in 60 games over four seasons with the Gold Wings has a sparkling 1.65 goals-against average and a .950 save percentage.
In the playoffs, both have continued to be pillars for their clubs as Kish has appeared in 19 post-season games while Vance has 21 games under her belt and has easily faced the most shots in playoff action with well over 600 in her four years with the Bears. This season, Kish is 4-0-0 with a 0.99 GAA and a .953 save percentage while Vance is 3-1-0 with a 1.63 GAA and .954 save percentage.
Their dominance was never more evident than in the opening game when a total of 86 shots were directed on goal – 45 by Weyburn and 41 by Prince Albert – with just three pucks getting behind them.
The strong goaltending is a main reason why four of the five meetings this year have been decided by just one goal with three of those needing extra time to settle the outcome. The fifth contest, for all intents and purposes, was also a one-goal game as Weyburn sealed a 2-0 win on the final weekend of the regular season with a goal in the final two minutes.
The Bears have won both meetings on home ice – one in a shootout and another in overtime – but Weyburn has not been in Prince Albert since the end of September when they played a double header to open the regular schedule.
The Bears, who welcomed defenceman Brooke Hobson back to the line-up on Tuesday after the 14-year-old missed the entire first-round sweep of the Notre Dame Hounds due to an injury she incurred at the Saskatchewan Winter Games, will be looking to get back on even terms with the Gold Wings before the series moves back to Weyburn for Game 3 on Sunday.
Should the series go beyond Sunday, Game 4 will be back in Prince Albert on Wednesday with a fifth and deciding match scheduled for Weyburn on Mar. 20.
The winner of this semifinal will meet either the Regina Rebels or Swift Current Wildcats in the league final with the defending-champion Rebels winning the first game 6-0 in that semifinal clash.