A night after they fell 4-3 to the Regina Rebels on home ice, the Prince Albert Northern Bears were determined to end the regular season on a winning note.
Miranda Heidt tied the game with 59 seconds to go and captain Abby Soyko would complete the comeback with 1:07 left in overtime as the Bears picked up a 4-3 win of their own over the Rebels at the Kinsmen Arena.
“We knew that it was now or never for us,” Heidt said after the game “We wanted to get those two goals in the final minute to get three points and wrap up third place, but we’re still pretty excited about getting that overtime win.”
“It’s always a good feeling when you can beat the second place team in the league,” Soyko added. “After our game yesterday, we all texted each other this afternoon and talked about how we needed to have a better showing tonight and play not just for each other, but for the Humboldt Broncos as were paying tribute to them with our jerseys this weekend.”
After Heidt tied the game with the extra attacker, the Bears pulled goaltender Lexi Beuker again as they tried to get three points for a regulation win and clinch third place in the standings.
Although that didn’t happen, Soyko made sure that they finished the campaign in style as the captain’s shot from the slot got by Rebels goalie Payton Schlamp to complete her hat trick performance.
“We had so many chances before that, but we just couldn’t capitalize,” Soyko said.
“We were getting down to the final minute and I just shot the puck at the net. I was pretty surprised when we scored as I was just trying to get a shot on their goalie there.”
Beuker made 36 saves for the Bears to earn the victory.
Kaylee Dyer, Sydney Pedersen and Lauren Focht all scored for the Rebels, who recieved a 46-save showing from Payton Schlamp.
Soyko’s overtime heroics gave the Bears a regular season record of 17-9-2 and has them in third place in the Saskatchewan Female Midget AAA Hockey League standings.
However, the team does not yet know where they will rank in the final league table and who they will face in the quarter-finals, which is expected to begin on March 7.
The 16-10-1 Swift Current Wildcats are just two points back of the Bears for third place and can clinch the spot with a regulation win at home tomorrow against the 1-25-1 Weyburn Gold Wings.
Meanwhile, the 11-12-3 Notre Dame Hounds have a two point lead over the 11-12-4 Battlefords Sharks for the fifth seed in the post-season.
The Sharks wrap up their regular season slate on the road Sunday against the 9-16-2 Melville Prairie Fire, while the Hounds host the 26-1-0 Saskatoon Stars tomorrow afternoon before visiting the 17-6-4 Rebels Wednesday night.
The Rebels had a well-balanced attack in Friday’s matchup as Samantha Sichkaruk, Jordan Fry, Hanna Bailey and Pedersen all found the back of the net and Chantel Weller stopped 24 shots.
Soyko led the offence for the hosts with two assists, while Brooklyn Anderson, Rhea Peterson and Kate Ball all scored in a game that saw Scout Anderson make 40 saves.
“It was a bit of a rough start for us yesterday as we sat back and watched them control the play,” Heidt said. “We had our legs going tonight and we were all working hard, which led to our result.
“We’ve shown what we are capable of and now we just have work on improving a few things ahead of the playoffs.”
Before the post-season begins, Heidt, Soyko, Ball and Jadyn Kushniruk will compete for Team Saskatchewan at the Canada Winter Games.
Their first round-robin game is slated for next Sunday in Red Deer against Manitoba.