© Herald photo by Perry Bergson
Prince Albert A&W Bears captain Morgan Willoughby watches along with Regina Rebels defenceman Santana Gravelle as goaltender Summer Roberts prepares to stop a shot during the second period at the Art Hauser Centre in Prince Albert on Saturday afternoon. The Rebels won 3-1.
Losing back-to-back games doesn’t generally generate smiles, but the Prince Albert A&W Bears are feeling pretty good about themselves despite a pair of weekend setbacks to the defending Saskatchewan Female Midget AAA Hockey League champion Regina Rebels.
“Both games shared momentum and play (for each team) about 50 per cent of the time,” noted Bears’ head coach Jeff Wiloughby following a 3-1 loss on Saturday at the Art Hauser Centre. “The two performances back-to-back were very similar. One team wasn’t outplayed for any stretch at a time.”
“The rivalry is renewed against them I believe,” added Willoughby.
Having lost the first game 2-0 on Friday at the Kinsmen Arena, the Bears came out flying in the Saturday contest and at one point were outshooting the Rebels 8-1 early in the opening session.
A fluky goal by Emma Waldenberger that bounced off several pairs of skates before beating Prince Albert netminder Jessica Vance sort of deflated the Bears, but it was a one-minute lull in the second period that ultimately decided the game.
“The second period has been our weakest period,” says Willoughby. “We warned the girls to step up their performance through the 20-40 minute mark. It’s takes 60 minutes to play a game.”
“If we have to break things down into five-minute brackets then that’s what we have to do,” added Willoughby.
Waldenberger, with her second of the game, and Lilla Carpenter-Boesch gave the Rebels a 3-0 advantage midway through the second period, but Prince Albert never backed down.
Kaytlyn Chickowski, with her first-ever goal at the Midget AAA level, got the Bears on the board early in the third period, but Summer Roberts in the Regina goal shut the door the rest of the way.
Vance finished the game with 28 saves while Roberts turned aside 24.
For the Bears, who were swept by the Rebels in last spring’s league championship final, the weekend performances were encouraging as the youthful Prince Albert squad now realizes they can keep pace with a veteran team like Regina.
The Bears, who have split their first four games this year after beating Weyburn in both contests last weekend, take to the road on Saturday to face the Battlefords Sharks. A weekend doubleheader against the Notre Dame Hounds on Oct. 19-20 will be the last home games for almost a month and due to annual scheduling conflicts in Prince Albert, the Bears will have just one game on home ice in November.