Hopefuls growling to be a Bear

Todd Pruner
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The Prince Albert A&W Bears came out of hibernation on the weekend with their fall camp at the Art Hauser Centre.

Hopefuls growling to be a Bear

The Prince Albert A&W Bears came out of hibernation on the weekend with their fall camp at the Art Hauser Centre.

The Bears have 11 players back who played at least one game for the Saskatchewan Female Midget Hockey League champions last season.

Behind the bench, last year's head coach Ron Bonneau is no longer with the team, while Grant Gordon has moved from his job as an assistant coach to being the head man. Jerome Mrazek is also back, as an assistant coach.

A total of 33 players attended the camp in hopes of making the AAA team. Among them was forward Shalyn Cowan of Hudson Bay, who turns 16 in November.

She wants to "get some points, be a leader (and) help the team out as much as I can."

She attended the under-18 top-80 camp for Team Saskatchewan and coached at a conditioning camp in her hometown.

"We're expecting big things out of Shalyn Cowan and Carlee Hrenkiw, even Alex Odnokon," Gordon said. "Our veterans who are coming back have got to be our leaders. Courtney Hillman and Triston Riemer (on defence), they're going to be counted on fairly heavily."

Cowan contributed five goals and 15 points as a rookie last season. This year, she'll be relied upon even more with two-thirds of the team's top line (Teegan Heintz and Madison Stork) moving on from midget hockey.

Chelsey Sundby, a 17-year-old from Marsden, was the third forward on the top line. She finished tied for sixth in the league with 27 points in 27 games.

Meanwhile, Erica Parenteau is looking to fill one of the gaps up front left by players not returning. The 15-year-old forward played just three games for the Bears last season, while spending most of the year with the AA Prince Albert Northern Pats, who play in the North Sask. Female Hockey League.

The hometown Parenteau didn't have much of a chance to hit the ice this summer to prepare for hockey season.

She was playing soccer for the under-16 Prince Albert Celtic, who advanced to provincials at Prime Ministers' Park in July. Later that month, she travelled to Quebec to compete in all-star nationals for soccer.

"I haven't been skating much this summer, so it feels pretty good to get out there," she said shortly before one of the Bears' skating sessions on Saturday.

In goal, there isn't much doubt about who's going to be the starter. Warman's Caitlin Lahonen, 17, posted a 10-4 record with the Bears last year, along with a 1.51 goals-against average (tied for first in the league) and a .934 save percentage (second in the league).

Jessica Vance, Kristen Cromartie, Kiara Bolay and Jacy Akre will compete for the back-up role.

Gordon said he would likely keep the 33 players together until the league's showcase tournament in Swift Current on Sept. 19-20. The Bears play their first regular season game on Oct. 4 against Regina at the Art Hauser Centre.


Organizations: Art Hauser Centre, Saskatchewan Female Midget Hockey League, AAA AA Prince Albert Northern Pats

Geographic location: Hudson Bay, Marsden, North Sask. Quebec Swift Current Regina

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