Depending on what happens with the Prince Albert Raiders when they play the Red Deer Rebels on Tuesday in a one-game playoff for the eighth and final post-season berth in the Western Hockey League’s Eastern Conference, the A&W Bears could be the lone Prince Albert team left standing when they host the Weyburn Gold Wings on Wednesday in a Saskatchewan Female Midget AAA Hockey League semifinal game at 7 p.m. at the Art Hauser Centre.
With that said, the Bears are also down to their last life following a 5-0 setback in Weyburn on Sunday giving the Gold Wings a 2-1 series lead and a chance to advance to the league final with one more win.
After beating the Gold Wings 2-1 on Saturday at the Art Hauser Centre, the Bears were looking to grab the series lead themselves, but a series of trips to the penalty box took the momentum away and also got head coach Jeff Willoughby tossed from the game.
“That wasn’t even a hockey game,” said a frustrated Willoughby after the match. “Everything we did went against us to get back into the game.”
Weyburn scored the only goal of the first period and then tallied three more in the second before completing the scoring with a single marker in the final frame.
Jessica Vance and Shayla Youngman were tested 31 times in the Prince Albert net while Jane Kish turned aside all 19 Bears’ shots to record the shutout.
The momentum was clearly in Weyburn’s favour as they were awarded 13 power plays in the game. To the Bears’ credit, they killed off 12 of those opportunities.
Saturday’s game was a totally different match as Tylor Lindsay and Kayla McNab, with her first-ever goal at the Midget AAA level, got Prince Albert out in front in the first 10 minutes and except for a Whitney Thorp goal with seven seconds remaining Vance was perfect in the Bears’ goal.
Now the Bears have to win on Wednesday to have a chance to force a fifth and deciding game in Weyburn on Thursday.
“We have to be ready and get on the board first,” said Willoughby. “We have to keep pressing and get back down here (Weyburn). Hopefully we aren’t playing against the officials then.”
Every other level of hockey is over – the Mintos (until the Western Regionals in early April), the Icehawks, developmental teams and provincial house-league representatives. Just city playoffs in the Prince Albert Minor Hockey Association remain so it’s much too early for hockey to be over and fans will be pulling for both the Raiders and Bears to extend their seasons beyond Wednesday.