Thanks to a new hockey stick and a shutout, the Prince Albert Northern Bears finished their weekend play 2-0 against the Melville Prairie Fire in Saskatchewan Female Midget AAA Hockey League action.
Brooklyn Anderson’s Saturday evening hat trick – scored with a newly bought stick – powered her side to a 5-2 victory. On Sunday afternoon, veteran goalie Ryan Fontaine backstopped the Bears to a 5-0 shutout win.
The teams played their games in Nipawin on Saturday and in Prince Albert on Sunday.
The Nipawin game was part of the town’s annual Female Hockey Tournament; the town hosted the elite girls hockey teams to showcase female hockey, and to give younger girls a chance to see the type of skilled play they can pursue as they get older.
Melville jumped out to an early lead after Heather Fiske scored on the powerplay during a goalmouth scramble to put her team up 1-0 at 3:38 in the first period.
Bears captain Hannah Koroll tied it at 1-1 four minutes later with a powerplay, slap shot goal that changed direction on its way to the net, fooling goalie Cheyenne Jamieson.
Anderson broke the tie and netted three goals over three periods to seal the win for her team.
For her 13:29 first period goal, she created a short breakaway along the boards to Jamieson’s left side. The second-year Bear skated in front of the goalie’s crease, faked a forehand shot to force Jamieson down for the save and then slid her backhand shot behind the goalie into the net.
Her second period, powerplay goal would prove to be the winner for the Bears.
After the game, she said she’s been developing that deke move in practice for some time.
“It’s something I’ve always been doing ever since I was a little kid. It comes natural sometimes, I guess.”
Her three-goal game came courtesy the new stick she bought before heading to Nipawin on Saturday. “My mom said, ‘hopefully there’s some luck getting some goals with that.’ And I guess there was.”
Her efforts were also helped by new linemates Kate Ball and Jasper Desmarais. It was the second weekend that the Bears’ coaches played the three together.
“We took (Camryn) Amundson and put Anderson in there,” head coach Jeff Willoughby said.
“They all see the ice well. So, we can put them with anyone really. As long as there’s a new player coming in who sees the ice well, there should be good chemistry right away.”
The line appeared to have that Saturday. The trio combined for eight points.
Melville head coach Dean Amy said his team had some success crashing the net, but it wasn’t consistent enough.
“We had our opportunities and we don’t really go on a lot of the shots. We count on those scoring opportunities (in front of the crease). It was more about boxing them out first and then getting the zone.”
He complimented his team for sticking with it through the second and third periods.
“It was kind of a two-way street there a lot of times. They’d sew us in (our zone); we’d sew them in (their zone). It was a good battle all the way through.”
By Sunday, the Prairie Fire were playing their fourth game over six days, going back to Nov. 14.
If they were at all fatigued, they didn’t let it show through the first two periods at Prince Albert’s Art Hauser Centre.
After 40 minutes, the score was 1-0 for the Bears, thanks to Kate Ball’s second period goal at 3:48.
“Brooklyn Anderson was on my line. She’s a really tough girl.
“She drove to the net really fast and just got the paly going, and the puck just bounced in front of me, and I just put it in,” Ball said.
This is the third year that she and Desmarais have played on the same line. “We have super good chemistry … so adding Brooklyn to it, she’s just a really good all-around player.”
Fontaine picked up her first shutout of the season on Sunday, stopping all 17 Melville shots she faced.
Despite her opponent’s lower shot count, she said the game wasn’t an easy one.
“They’re really gritty and hard around the net. You’ll expect limbs everywhere and slashes … they play rebounds well.”
When a puck does come loose near her crease, “I have to get to it as fast as I can, cause I know someone will be right on it no matter what.”
Fontaine also pointed out the role of her defencemen in steering Melville’s shots away from her net.
“I owe a lot to my team today. They really did keep the shot count down. They blocked out a lot of shots. It’s amazing when they do that – that’s what gets us shutouts really.”
Anderson and Desmarais assisted on Ball’s second period goal on Sunday. The Bears also had goals from Miranda Heidt (2), Jadyn Kushniruk, and Alli Soyko. Amundson and Abby Soyko assisted on the game’s goals, along with a second helper from Desmarais.
In the Saturday game, Abby Soyko also scored, while Desmarais (3), Koroll (2), Sienna Danielson (2) and Ball (2) assisted.
The Bears (10-3-0-0) will next play the Notre Dame Hounds (4-1-2-0) in a pair of games from Prince Albert on Nov. 25 and 26.
The Bears sit in second place in the eight-team league, two points back of Saskatoon.