Bears win season opener
Girls team outscores Battlefords 12-4, starts season 2-0
The girls’ AAA Midget squad opened their 2017-18 season at home this weekend
The Prince Albert Northern Bears are a perfect 2-0 after opening their regular season over the weekend against the Battlefords Sharks.
The Midget AAA girls teams started the weekend series Saturday afternoon from the Art Hauser Centre with a choppy, penalty-filled affair that saw the Bears win 6-2.
The teams followed that game up with a Sunday afternoon tilt that again saw the Bears dominate the Sharks and win 6-2.
“Overall we’re happy with the team’s performance. (Saturday) was our first game in three weeks after two exhibition games against Lloydminster, so we’re happy. Obviously we have some things we need to work on this time of year,” Bears head coach Jeff Willoughby said after the first win.
In that game, the Bears outshot the Sharks 40-23 and dominated puck possession. Most of the play occurred in the Sharks’ zone, thanks to effective puck cycling and passing from the Bears.
“We always try to keep the puck low,” Willoughby said. “If they have a good answer to that, then you’ve gotta find another means of creating offence,” he said.
Bears’ defenders like Jordan Ashe, Jadyn Kushniruk and Haley Kicia found success in getting pucks to their teammates down low in front and to the side of Sharks’ goalie Chloe Burt.
Despite the loss, Burt kept her composure and made some key glove and blocker saves to keep her team in the game.
The Bears frequently faked slap shots from the point and passed the puck down low to their forwards.
Likewise, the forwards came up with several tip shots off of their teammates’ slappers from the point.
“The defence were open a lot. Their forwards weren’t really pressuring them as much, so we got as many pucks to the point as we could and lots of action in front of the net,” forward Jasper Desmarais said.
She was credited with two goals in the game.
Her second was a poignant setup from teammate Kate Ball.
As if deciding on a bank shot, Ball skated around the circle on Burt’s right side while spying Desmarais sitting in front of the net.
She then deftly shot the puck at her teammate’s skate and saw it bounce in for the score, marking her team’s sixth goal.
As the game wore on after the first period, the Sharks managed to find some holes in the Bears’ play and score two goals, one at the end of the second period and another midway through the third period.
But neither score gave the visiting team enough momentum to push for a win – the combination of the Bears’ offensive attack and a flurry of penalties from both teams stifled much of the game’s flow and pace.
The Sharks committed 12 infractions while the Bears committed 14 in the game.
“Want to be more disciplined. It’s usually kind of like that against this team. We definitely want to work on our discipline and staying out of the box,” Bears captain Hannah Koroll said.
As for improvement areas, she said the team’s play in the neutral zone was inconsistent and too disorganized. “We just gotta work on cleaning that up a little bit and being more systematic,” she said.
Brooklkyn Anderson, Rhea Peterson, Alli Soyko and Kishniruk also scored for the Bears in the game.
The Bears found equal success and more discipline on Sunday, beating the Sharks again 6-2 while cutting down their penalties to eight infractions. They outshot the Sharks 45-22.
The Sharks were up 1-0 after the first period, thanks to a goal from Keara Amson.
But the Bears took a 3-1 lead in the second period on three goals from Jessie Herner, Camryn Amundson and Ball.
The Bears had third period goals from Kassidy Kicia and Anderson, while Celena Kissick scored for the Battlefords.
The Bears next game is Oct. 14 at the Art Hauser Centre against Swift Current.
Battlefords Sharks goalie Chloe Burt tries to corral the puck against Jordan Ashe and Rhea Peterson of the Prince Albert Northern Bears on Saturday at the Art Hauser Centre.
Prince Albert Northern Bears goalie Ryan Fontaine watches the puck bounce in front of her while a Battlefords Sharks player tries to bat it into the net on Saturday.