The Prince Albert A&W Bears face another stiff test this weekend when they host the defending Saskatchewan Female Midget AAA Hockey League champion Regina Rebels in a pair of games Friday and Saturday.
The Bears passed the first test of the young season last weekend when they edged the Weyburn Gold Wings 3-2 in overtime and 2-1 in a shootout, but the Rebels are the pre-season favourites to repeat as champions.
Regina, which has yet to play a game this year, is coming off a season in which they won 27 of 28 regular-season games with the only blemish being an overtime loss to Prince Albert early in the season.
The Rebels have 10 returning players from last year’s championship team including fourth-year forward Emma Waldenberger, who was second in league scoring last season. Regina is also strong in goal with Tatum Shand having posted a .972 save percentage and 15 victories in her rookie campaign while on defence the Rebels are led by veteran Erica Reider.
Prince Albert, meanwhile, will counter with Jessica Vance in goal as the fourth-year netminder is second in the league with a 1.42 goals-against-average and a .953 save percentage.
The Bears also possess a strong defensive corps led by Morgan Willoughby, Breanne Neudorf, Aleece Anderson and Brooke Hobson. Up front, veterans Crystal Berube and Tylor Lindsay have been impressive as has the play of rookie Sierra Glass.
In fact all 10 first-year players on the Bears got the nerves out their systems last weekend and should be ready to help the veterans avenge last spring’s sweep in the league final at the hands of the Rebels.
Prince Albert has a very favourable schedule to start the season as they play six of their first seven games on home ice. The only road trip in that stretch is next Saturday when they travel to the Battlefords to faces the Sharks. The Notre Dame Hounds will be in Prince Albert on Oct. 19 and 20 with the Bears then heading to Regina one week later for the rematch with the Rebels.
Friday’s game is at 7 p.m. at the Kinsmen Arena with Saturday’s contest starting at 1:30 p.m. at the Art Hauser Centre.