Bears begin season on the right track

Mark Janzen
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Well, what did you expect?

Bears begin season on the right track

Well, what did you expect?

If you didn't know better, you might think Jacques Lemaire was coaching the Prince Albert A&W Bears.

The Bears started their season on home ice Sunday afternoon with a 2-1 win over the Regina Rebels. And despite some early season errors and young mistakes, Bears coach Grant Gordon was delighted with the low-scoring victory.

"I'll take a 2-1 win, as opposed to a 6-0 win," said Lemaire ... er ... Gordon. "You learn more out of these 2-1 wins than the 6-0 games.

"For the first game, it was all right. In a few areas, we got away from our systems, but other than that, it was a good battle. We worked hard and we tried to stay disciplined. We got a couple of frisky penalties, but it was generally okay.

The Bears played a hard-nosed style that was led in large part by forward Chelsey Sundby, who often found herself in the middle of post-whistle scrums and behind penalty-box glass.

"We're aggressive," Gordon said. "We go to the net hard and we expect those little scrums, but that's how we play."

And, thanks to a pair of goals by Carlee Hrenkiw, it worked.

"(Hrenkiw) played well," Gordon said. "She's a very skilled player. She has very good hands with the puck and she knows where to be on the ice at certain times, and the result is a couple of goals for her."

Despite battling a case of the flu and a case of the nerves, Hrenkiw was dynamic all afternoon and her goal with 2:16 left gave the Bears an important win.

"I was kind of sick this morning, but once I got on the ice, I was fine," Hrenkiw said. "There was a lot of adrenaline. I was so pumped. I didn't really even feel it. I just got the puck in the corners and battled hard. I think we did a lot better than our exhibition games. We've improved."

And get used to this: goalie Caitlyn Lahonen had another great effort. The Bears' standout keeper stopped 22 of 23 shots as she showed why her coach, her teammates and her opponents are so high on her.

Now, the focus turns to the next three weeks. The Bears' next game is not until Oct. 25 when they play Notre Dame in Wilcox.

So, after training camp, four exhibition games and one regular season game, it's almost like it's back to training camp.

"For the next three weeks, we're going to have lots of systems work, lots of power-play work, penalty kill work and forecheck work," Gordon said. "We're going to do lots of conditioning. We're not in the greatest of shape. I think it's going to benefit us, actually."

There goes Lemaire again.

Practice and defence. It might not be sexy, but if it's successful, no one will complain.

Geographic location: Notre Dame, Wilcox

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