Daily Herald Staff
If something feels eerily familiar in the female Midget AAA playoffs, then there is a good reason for that.
One year ago the Prince Albert A&W Bears swept the Notre Dame Hounds in the opening round of the Saskatchewan Female Midget AAA Hockey League playoffs before meeting the Weyburn Gold Wings in the semifinals.
Against their southern rivals, that series went the distance with Prince Albert winning the decisive game to move on to the league final against the Regina Rebels.
So far this year the Bears have swept aside the Hounds in the opening round and they are now in need of a win on Wednesday at 7 p.m. at the Art Hauser Centre to force a decisive game against Weyburn in the semifinals. And, waiting in the wings are the Rebels who secured a spot in the league final with a three-game sweep of the Swift Current Wildcats on Sunday.
The only difference between the two seasons is home-ice advantage in the best-of-five semifinal between Prince Albert and Weyburn. Last year it belonged to the Bears, but this year the Gold Wings hold the advantage.
Before that comes into play, however, the Bears have to take care of business on their home ice to send the series back to Weyburn on Thursday.
The Gold Wings grabbed the series lead on Sunday in a penalty-filled game that saw the Bears kill off 12 of 13 power-play situations given to Weyburn. The result was a 5-0 verdict in what was easily the most lopsided game of the season as all six previous meetings this year were decided by two goals or less.
Following Sunday’s game, Bears’ head coach Jeff Willoughby, who was tossed from the contest after protesting some of the calls, said his club is going to have to come out hard and get on the board early.
That was very prevalent in Prince Albert’s lone win in the series when Tylor Lindsay and Kayla McNab scored in the first 10 minutes of Saturday’s 2-1 win at the Art Hauser Centre.
For Lindsay, the goal was her fifth of the post-season and the 16-year-old forward has figured in eight of the 14 goals Prince Albert has scored in the playoffs. Her continued touch around the net will be crucial for the Bears to prolong their season.
Wednesday’s game is the only home game for any Prince Albert hockey fan to see this week as all other action has either been completed or is on hold. The Bears are hoping for a large and boisterous crowd to help them get an edge and send the series back to Weyburn.