Bears advance to semifinals after sweeping Notre Dame in opening round

Dave Leaderhouse
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There was relief in more ways than one when the Prince Albert A&W Bears dispatched the Notre Dame Hounds in Saskatchewan Female Midget AAA Hockey League playoff action on Saturday at the Art Hauser Centre.

Not only did the Bears win the series in three straight games with Saturday’s 5-2 decision, but they also overcame a scheduling hurdle that was brought on when Game 3, which was originally set to be played on Thursday but was postponed due to inclement weather down south, finally got played.

Lengthy discussions were held between the Bears and Hounds as to when the game should be played, and with ice availability at a premium in both centres due to heavy playoff schedules, just getting the game finalized took a lot of work.

Add to that the reduced amount of time left to complete the series and it could have been exhausting for both clubs should the series have been prolonged.

Those worries were all put to rest, however, as the Bears got goals from five different players en route to the convincing win on Saturday.

“It feels like we just went five games,” said Bears’ head coach Jeff Willoughby referring to how long it took to complete the series. “It was our best effort of the three games.”

Jessica Lutz and Aleece Anderson scored for Prince Albert in the first period, but the Hounds made it interesting in the middle frame when Maeve McGauley and Dana Houck sandwiched a goal by Prince Albert’s Morgan Willoughby.

“When they made it 3-2 the girls said in the dressing room we have to take the momentum back,” explained the Bears’ head coach. “And, they did.”

Crystal Berube and Tylor Lindsay completed the scoring in the final period with Lindsay also collecting an assist to finish the series with seven points.

Jessica Vance made 33 saves in the Prince Albert net while the Bears fired 29 shots at Kylee Styles in the Notre Dame goal.

The Bears will now face the Weyburn Gold Wings in the next round and Willoughby says it is a series he is looking forward to.

“We’ve been kind of gunning for this,” noted Willoughby as Prince Albert battled Weyburn all season for the second playoff seed. “We knew all along who we were going to be playing (if the Bears won), but they have been sitting and waiting so hopefully we can use that to our advantage.”

Weyburn, which ended up claiming the second seed and home-ice advantage, have been on the sidelines for a week after sweeping the Melville Prairie Fire in the opening round. The Regina Rebels and Swift Current Wildcats have also been sitting in limbo after sweeping their respective opening matches. If Notre Dame would have won against Prince Albert that would have pitted them against Regina leaving Weyburn to take on Swift Current, but the Wildcats now have the daunting task of taking on the defending league champion Rebels while Prince Albert and Weyburn got toe-to-toe for a second straight year in the semifinals.

Prince Albert, which won the first two regular-season meetings against the Gold Wings in extra time before losing both ends of the season-ending doubleheader in Weyburn, will head south for Game 1 on Tuesday.

The series will return to Prince Albert on Saturday and then head back to Weyburn on Sunday for Game 3. Should the series be extended past the minimum three games, the fourth match will go on Mar. 19 at the Art Hauser Centre and the fifth and deciding game would be back in Weyburn the following night.


Organizations: Prince Albert, Art Hauser Centre, Daily Herald

Geographic location: Saskatchewan, Notre Dame

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