Bears drop weekend opener to undefeated Stars

Daily Herald File Photo Miranda Heidt and Ashley Messier battle for the puck during a game between the Prince Albert Northern Bears and the Saskatoon Stars at the Art Hauser Centre last season.

A slow start forced the Prince Albert Northern Bears to try and claw their way back from a deficit Saturday night.

After giving up two goals in the first period, the Bears had a strong effort for the rest of the evening at the Art Hauser Centre but ended up losing a 3-1 affair against the Saskatoon Stars.

“We were happy overall with how we played, but we need to play a full 60 minutes and not just have a strong 40 minute effort,” Bears coach Jeff Willoughby said. “We had some trouble handling the puck early on and find ourselves having to defend right away, which isn’t what you want in the first few minutes.

“We traded goals in the last two periods, but we just didn’t bury our chances and let them off the hook a little bit. With that said, it could have been a 4-0 lead for them after the first period.”

Although they were outshot 15-4 in the opening frame, the Bears had much better showings in the final two periods as they kept pace with a Stars side that has yet to lose a game in Saskatchewan Female Midget AAA Hockey League play all season.

“Our goal in the last 40 minutes was to try and outwork them, which is what we did,” Willoughby said. “We had stronger starts and we stayed out of the penalty box, which allowed us to keep our energy level up.”

Brooklyn Anderson got the lone goal for the 7-5-1 Bears, while goaltender Lexi Beuker made 24 saves.

The Stars, who improved their record to 13-0, were led on offence by a two-point outing from Makena Kushniruk.

“It’s always a fun time when we play the Bears as Jeff always has them working hard,” Stars head coach Greg Slobodzian said.

“We had to simply things a bit as the game went on, but I was happy with how the girls played and I’m looking forward to the rematch tomorrow.”

Kaitlin Jockims and Grace Shirley also scored for the Stars, who received an 18-save showing from Arden Kliewer.

The two sides will square off again at 1 p.m. Sunday at the Art Hauser Centre.