Bears' season comes to an end with emotional loss to Gold Wings

Dave Leaderhouse
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For a fleeting moment it looked like the Prince Albert A&W Bears were going to right the ship.

Trailing 2-1, and being badly outshot, midway through the third period of their elimination game against the Weyburn Gold Wings on Wednesday at the Art Hauser Centre, the Bears pulled even on Cassidy Carlson’s first-ever goal at the Midget AAA level.

The 14-year-old defenceman from Air Ronge had little time to enjoy the milestone, however, as the Gold Wings stormed back with three unanswered goals in a span of just under four minutes to collect a 5-2 victory and claim the best-of-five Saskatchewan Female Midget AAA Hockey League semifinal series in four games.

“It feels about the same as last year,” commented Bears’ head coach Jeff Willoughby when asked how hard it was to see his club eliminated from a shot at a league title. “We fell just a bit short.”

Willoughby, who guided the Bears to the league final against Regina a year ago after beating the Gold Wings in a hard-fought semifinal series, was forced to watch Wednesday’s game from the stands after receiving a one-game suspension for his actions from Sunday’s contest in Weyburn.

That put assistant coach Gord Hobson in control of the team by himself and Willoughby says that is a tough task.

“Gord did a great job, but it’s a little different,” explained Willoughby. “It’s a lot of work by yourself. It’s nice to have that extra eyes and ears.”

Prince Albert and Weyburn battled through a scoreless first period on Wednesday before Kassidy Sjostrand and Tessa Wilson sandwiched a goal by veteran Crystal Berube to give the Gold Wings a 2-1 advantage heading into the final frame.

For Berube, a fourth-year forward who played her final game with the Bears due to graduation, it was a tough loss, but still something she will remember for a long time.

“It seems like just yesterday I was in my rookie year here,” said an emotional Berube, who was named the Bears’ game star. “Every year was a new group of girls. You think you have learned everything, but you don’t. They (the coaches) just add on and add on.”

Also playing their last game with the Bears were Kendra Winny and Aleece Anderson leaving Prince Albert with 16 players who can return next year.

Berube said “it’s an amazing thing” to have such a young team and get as far as they did this year, but she also had words of advice for those younger teammates.

“No matter what you are doing in life, hard work and determination will get you far,” said Berube.

BEARS NOTES: Jensen Hammer, Madison Colbow and Macy Liebreich tallied for the Gold Wings in the final seven minutes of the game to seal the win…Jessica Vance faced 30 shots in the Prince Albert goal while Jane Kish was tested 15 times in the Weyburn net…Weyburn will now face the defending league champion Regina Rebels in the championship series which starts on Saturday in Regina…The league awards will be presented prior to the start of the first game of the final series and there is some chatter that at least one Prince Albert player will pick up some hardware.


Organizations: Weyburn Southern Range Gold Wings, Art Hauser Centre

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