The Prince Albert Bears captured the C Division Crown at the Mandi Schwartz Memorial Tournament in Wilcox and Milestone with a 1-0 triumph over the Weyburn Goldwings on Sunday.
The Bears posted a record of 3-2-0 in the 16-team tournament hosted by Notre Dame College featuring teams from across Western Canada.
Bears coach Jeff Willoughby said his teamâs come-from-behind overtime victory against St. Francis speaks volumes to the teamâs character.
âWe were trailing 2-0 pretty well the whole game and we came back at the end and won it in overtime,â Willoughby said of playing with their backs against the wall, facing elimination. âAfter you played 55 minutes and youâre down two goals, some teams will quit, our girls just kept going.â
On route to capturing the division title, the Bears collected a 1-0 win over the Spruce Grove Saints in their opening game and a 3-2 overtime victory over St. Francis Xavier.
Willoughby said he was pleased with his teamâs performance throughout the tournament, adding he was impressed with the teamâs ability to stay sharp through a grueling five-in-four schedule.
âWe arenât normally faced with playing that much hockey,â Willoughby said. âTheir conditioning held up and we were really happy with the way they played.â
Posting a record of 5-5-5 in the SFMHL, participating in the tournament will only benefit their league play, Willoughby said.
âIf they can compete at this level (tournament), it will help us out quite a bit,â he said, adding the calibre of competition in the tournament may have been stronger than that of the SFMHL. âIn this tournament there were some of the best teams from Western Canada. It didnât matter who they faced, they came out and they played well, they matched up with anybody in the tournament."
Shifting back to play in the SFML, the Bears will look to take the experience garnered in the tournament and apply it to their day-to-day game, Willoughby said.
âPlaying so many games in a short time, we had to adjust to a couple different forecheck systems and one particular defensive zone coverage that we really want to implement into our league play,â Willougby said. âI felt we showed that we outworked a majority of the teams we played. We have to take that into our league play, if we do that we are bound to be successful.â
The Bears are back in action on Dec. 17, facing the Battlefords Sharks on the road, returning home to host the Swift Current Wildcats on Dec. 20 at the Art Hauser Centre.