The Prince Albert A&W Bears finally return to play in front of a home crowd when they host the Swift Current Wildcats at 7 p.m. on Friday at the Art Hauser Centre.
The Bears’ schedule has seen them play their last six games on the road and eight of their last nine away from Prince Albert. With the exception of a home game on Nov. 13, the Bears have been road warriors for the last two months.
During that span the Bears have posted a 5-3-0-1 record to leave them at 6-5-3-2 for the season. Those results have the Bears in sixth place in the standings, but they are just six points out of second place with a number of games in hand on opposing teams.
The first team they have to leap over is Swift Current as the Wildcats are just one point ahead of the Bears. The two clubs faced each other earlier this month in Swift Current with Prince Albert winning the first game 3-2 before losing in a shootout by the same score.
With the Bears and Wildcats meeting twice this weekend -- they will also square off at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday at the Art Hauser Centre -- Prince Albert can put some distance between the two and also catch the Notre Dame Hounds and possibly the Saskatoon Stars to sit in third place by the Christmas break.
To accomplish that the Bears will have to do so without their leading scorer for Friday’s game as Brooke Hobson will miss the contest as she completes a two-game suspension issued earlier this month. Hobson, who has nine goals and three assists in 15 games, will be eligible to return to the lineup on Saturday.
The Bears, who have opted not attend the Mac’s Invitational tournament in Calgary over the Christmas break for the first time in several years, will remain at home now for more than a month as they will have four more games on home ice to start the New Year.
It is an important part of the schedule and it all begins on Friday.