The A&W Bears have their first round opponent.
They will face the seventh-place Notre Dame Hounds in a five-game Saskatchewan Female Midget AAA Hockey League series that will start on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. at the Art Hauser Centre.
They will also host game three on Sunday at 7 p.m. and, if necessary, game five on Thursday, March 7 at 7:30 p.m. Notre Dame hosts the Bears on Saturday at 4:30 p.m. and, if necessary, Tuesday, March 5 at 8 p.m.
Bears coach Jeff Willoughby says the Hounds do a lot of things really well.
"They work hard, they forecheck us hard all of the time," he said after practice on Monday. "They have two lines that can score with any other lines in the league so we have to be aware of that. Their goaltending is solid too. All of our games with them were close, it was never out of the woods so you have to be prepared to play 60 minutes."
In their four meetings, the Bears won the home games 3-1 on Jan. 12 and 5-1 on Jan. 13, and won the road games 4-3 on Jan. 26 and 3-2 on Jan. 27.
The Bears finished the season with a record of 19-6-0-3 while the Hounds went 7-20-0-1.
Willoughby says he's told his team that no longer matters.
"You just keep reminding them that whatever they've done in the regular season, it's over," he said. "A brand new season has started. We all start at the same start line no matter how your regular season went."
It's not a series lacking in storylines.
The Bears went out in three straight at the hands of the Hounds in the league semi-final last season. They rebounded to sweep the Hounds in regular season play this year.
For extra incentive, the Prince Albert Mintos AAA midget boy's hockey team will face the Notre Dame Argos in first round action.
Kelly Regnier, who led the Bears in scoring with 42 points and finished fourth overall in the league, says revenge is definitely on her mind.
"Notre Dame swept us last year," she said of the 2012 league final. "It's our time to take them down."
According to her coach, the recipe for playoff success is fairly simple.
"We work as hard as anyone or harder," he says. "That results in outshooting teams. We would like to maybe see the games under control earlier instead of in the last five minutes. We would like to see more offence.
"You do a bunch of small things correctly and it's going to add up one big thing."
Regnier agrees, adding that teamwork will be huge.
"We need to work together," she says. "I know during the league we had our downfalls when it we just didn't quite click. I think we just built on each other in the last weeks."
ICINGS: After a nine-day layoff, the Bears are healthy heading into the playoffs ... A pair of Bears will be facing off against each other next year. Captain Kaitlin Willoughby will join the University of Saskatchewan Huskies next season while Regnier will become a University of Regina Cougar … The other three series have Regina facing Battleford, Weyburn against Swift Current and Saskatoon taking on Melville. The dates for the Saskatoon-Melville series haven’t been set yet …